Volunteers bring artistic touch to Civic Square

By Lawrence Gullery

A colourful addition to Hastings will aim to inspire young people to take ownership of the city's civic square and more interest in the city library and art gallery.

More than 20 secondary school children, from Flaxmere and Hastings, are nearing completion of a three-month art project displayed on the concrete civic square plaza outside the Hastings City Art Gallery and next to the Hastings Library.

The young volunteers have worked on the project as part of the Aka Holiday Programme, led by Flaxmere woman Alayna Hokianga, with the art gallery's Te Aroha Tauroa.

"I would say the students have put more than 60 hours of work into the project over 10 weeks," Mrs Hokianga said.

"Even though it's a holiday programme, we've actually been going through the entire last term of the year, bringing the students from Flaxmere out to the civic centre twice a week to work on the project."

It was the art gallery which promoted the idea of a taniko design for the plaza area.

Taniko is a traditional form of weaving and its design are a feature in kete, bags, headbands and wall hangings.

"It was an opportunity presented to us by the gallery and one with a kaupapa Maori that we were keen to embrace," Mrs Hokianga said. "However, everyone who has seen the taniko design has said it's had a big impact on them.

"It's been wonderful to get the children involved. It's been a lot of work and there's still more work to do so we are keen to get it finished ASAP."

Feedback from the students and the public watching the project had been promising.

"Once the children got through the initial stages, and could see it developing, they became more excited about finishing the project" Mrs Hokianga said.

"It's really stimulated their interest and attention. What we're hoping is that they will feel they've made a real contribution to the art gallery and library.

"We want them to be proud of their work and take ownership of it."

She hoped people visiting the civic centre would appreciate the efforts of the students.

"I guess we would like people to develop an appreciation of the art work and culture. We would also like people to appreciate the ability of our children, to be able to bring life and colour to a part of the civic centre."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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