Artistic students create school’s new mural

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Head girls Charlotte Tukiri, left, and Kayla Ngaropo painting the Matariki cluster in the mural. Photo supplied

A stunning new mural created by students is proudly being displayed at Pakuranga College.

The school’s whanau tutor students, who have Maori heritage and wish to connect with their culture, including head girls Charlotte Tukiri and Kayla Ngaropo, have created the mural based on Kupe’s journey to Aotearoa.

Staff member Rebecca Isemonger approached Creatives in Schools, a well-being programme delivered by the Ministry of Education in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and Heritage Te Manatu, and secured a $17,000 grant for the school, which included pairing with artist Eliza Donald to aid in the creative process.

The whanau tutor students spent several days during term one with local iwi and artefacts from Auckland War Memorial Museum, studying designs and listening to stories.

Pita Turei, of the local iwi Ngai Tai ki Tamaki, mentored and advised the students regarding the Maori connection to Pakuranga.

The students settled on Kupe, a legendary Polynesian explorer, for the mural because of the turbulence of his journey, Kayla says.

“It was not linear at all,” she says. “The artwork itself is a depiction of that (Kupe’s) journey.

“What we did throughout the school was tell the story in a video, and explain that significance to us.

“The mural itself is a physical representation of that journey, but the interpretation was shared to the school and the staff.”

After researching and picking the design, Donald took away what the students wished to see and created a visual representation. The whanau tutor students then began painting with Donald’s aid.

“Eliza was such a massive help,” Charlotte says. “She really supported and guided the students.”

The mural also included a hammerhead shark, based on the Maori saying “don’t die like an octopus, die like a hammerhead shark”.

“This is what we students think we carry as Maori students at Pakuranga,” Charlotte says.

The mural, named Ka puta ki te whaiao ki Te Ao Marama, was blessed by Turei and officially opened at dawn last week.

Whanau tutor students were also present, as well as Donald and Sunnyhills Schools principal Justine Driver.

“I feel humbled and content we have a visual representation of Te Ao Maori and Maori students being valued at Pakuranga College, and it being at the front of our school,” Charlotte says.

The mural is displayed on the side of one of the school’s buildings.