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Watch NZH Local Focus: Opotiki Artist bridges cultures

By Ingrid Jellick

The Waiotahe Valley School centenary celebrations on Saturday began with the unveiling and blessing of the school's new Poh.

The artwork was created by local artist Jamie Boynton, with help from the school's pupils.

Materials used include Totara wood, sourced locally, and aluminium propeller plate.

Waiotahe Valley School Principal Patrick Carrington said the artwork was symbolic of the school's vision.

"The Poh are just representative of where we want to go in the future for our children as well to connect and be part of our past and present," Mr Carrington said.

Boynton said his artwork is a reflection of a personal journey to uncover his identity, a mix of Maori and Pakeha heritage.

"The way I see the work I create is about creating a double door that Maori can authentically express themselves through to non-Maori and non-Maori can connect with Maori. So, it's bridging a cultural divide," Mr Boynton said.

The artist also said he sees a positive future for relations between Maori and The Crown.

"I think we're moving forward far more collectively and sharing our values a lot more which is really important," Mr Boynton said.

The project with Jamie Boynton has provided plenty of learning opportunities for the pupils too.

"Children don't just naturally become inclusive; they need to work at it. And they need to work at relationships," Mr Carrington said.

- NZ Herald

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