Auckland Communities Tell Stories of Their Incredibly Diverse City

Tuesday 14 February 2017

Auckland Communities Tell Stories of Their Incredibly Diverse City

Auckland Arts Festival works hand in hand with participants from Glen Innes, Sandringham, Mangere, Flat Bush, Northcote, Otara, Henderson and more.

In 2017, Auckland Arts Festival is producing Whānui for the first time. It's a series of five large-scale, community-based projects that will widen the Festival’s embrace.

Whānui is a series of participatory works commissioned by the Auckland Arts Festival in collaboration with established artists and community representatives. All five projects culminate in an exciting free event, giving as many people as possible the opportunity to see the power of community art in practice.

Whānui is a celebration and showcase of the diversity of our Tāmaki Makaurau featuring hundreds of participants, including 40 photographers aged 6 to 12 years.

Auckland Arts Festival Artistic Director, Carla van Zon says, “Diversity is at the heart of the Auckland Arts Festival’s programming philosophy, and we are committed to engaging with the many different people who call Auckland home. The Festival not only wants to connect with this vast audience but also with each community’s stories, ideas and performances.

“While we have collaborated with a wide range of artists in the past, Whānui is an exciting new collaboration between the Festival and a number of different communities and age groups, where the artwork is developed by the participants to enjoy with their families and friends. Already our hearts have been warmed by the delight on children’s faces as they receive their cameras in the Eye Spy project, and we are so excited by the unique photographs they are producing. We can’t wait to share these and many more stories, sounds and flavours of Auckland in March.”

Whānui is supported by Creative New Zealand and Foundation North through The Auckland Diversity Project Fund.

The five projects are:
- He Korowai Hapori (Our Community Cloak):
Auckland’s landscape is changing at lightning speed, with Glen Innes as one of the epicentres of the housing developments. He Korowai Hapori is a project lead by Ruapotaka Marae to create a large-scale korowai, that will incorporate 7,500 tiny perspex houses. Throughout February, dozens of people from a cross-section of community groups are joining in the creative process at Ruapotaka Marae and Te Whare Piringa Fenchurch.

- Samaroh – The Great Indian Carnival:
Sandringham is already famous for its abundance of eateries from across the South East Asian region. In March, Prayas Theatre Company will be ramping up the spice and colour saturation, transforming Sandringham Road Reserve with the hustle, bustle, sights and sounds of an Indian night market. With street performers and live music, there’s also a special don’t-miss mention for the Bollywood karaoke.

- Fonua:
The Pacific Islands are amongst the first countries in the world to be affected by climate change, as their precious landmass succumbs to rising sea levels. Created by a group of some of Auckland's emerging Pacific theatre artists alongside as many as 50 community members, Fonua (Tongan for Land) is a performance piece from our Polynesian community, incorporating dance, music, and song.

- Repertoire: Hip Hop Frequencies & Visual Sequences
In an age where contemporary American culture dominates our screens and airwaves, it’s often the case that our own NZ stories are left unknown and untold. Working in collaboration with radio REPFM, six MCs from all over Tāmaki Makaurau, and six street artists from FDKNS (Forever Def Kings Never Surrender) will embark on an Auckland-wide bus-tour to learn stories from their own communities, before responding to these insights through hip hop and art.

- Eye Spy:
Give 40 cameras to 40 kids, add in some professional photography guidance and workshops, and the result is a fresh perspective on young lives and what is important to them.

With the chance that among these young creatives are tomorrow’s leaders and decision makers, their young view of the world should be noted. Giving them these new skills are four respected professional photographers: Brendan Kitto, Emily Mafile’o, Raymond Sagapolutele and Jos Wheeler.

- Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Temple in Flat Bush, 8-23 March
- Northart at Northcote Shopping Centre, 8-23 March
- Otara Leisure Centre, 8-26 March
- Corban Estate Art Centre in Henderson, 17-20 March

One photo from each child will also be exhibited in the Festival Garden for the duration of the Festival. And be sure to look out for Phantom posters around the central city!