Project uses art to explore issues

By Alexandra Newlove

Mike Tupaea (left) with the artists who used their work as a way of exploring issues in their lives. Photo / John Stone
Mike Tupaea (left) with the artists who used their work as a way of exploring issues in their lives. Photo / John Stone

Young men going through a challenging time in their lives found a creative project allowed them to touch on topics they'd normally avoid, their programme co-ordinator says.

Teen dad support worker Mike Tupaea said "a real sense of pride" presided when a mural by participants on The Pulse's E Ara Kia Marama was unveiled and installed at one of The Pulse's main buildings in Raumanga last week.

Recently arrived in Whangarei, Mr Tupaea said he was interested in using creativity as a way of initiating conversations that wouldn't otherwise happen.

"We'd teach about the history of Maori art and forms. Along the way we listen to their korero and introduce topics like drugs and alcohol, relationships, and suicide. In the process of creating they were able to explore issues around what they're going through."

Twelve young men participated in the project, four of whom were teenage fathers. Mr Tupaea said the programme was originally geared towards teen dads, but had since broadened to include others who needed support.

Mr Tupaea taught about the history of Whangarei and Northland, which he said a lot of the men didn't know about.

"The main figure we based our art process on was wheku, which symbolises a transformation, an ancestor that's passed on ... That's around you yourself making a transformation, you don't have to stay where you are. What we're trying to do is explore through creativity a way of bringing relevant information to Maori who probably wouldn't engage with it outside of this programme."

- Northern Advocate

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