Bay of Plenty teacher Joanne Black loves sharing her passion for art.

Today, she's broadening the minds of students at Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Waioweka, a full-immersion school just outside of Opotiki.

"I see the benefits for the children," Joanne says. "I get goosebumps a lot of times, it lights me up, and I enjoy seeing it light up other children through the power and healing of art."

When Joanne received funding from the district council to increase participation in the arts, she knew she wanted to direct it towards the schools that would benefit most.


"I felt the rapport, the closeness and the gratitude. As a teacher, you do have a lot of a-ha moments. Well I felt that through the kids - they took a lot of risks."

The council allocates around $11,000 a year to people like Joanne, as part of the nationwide New Zealand Creative Communities Scheme.

"I find teachers are so glad to have me in. They're so rushed, they haven't got the time, a lot of them, to invest in arts," she says.

At this small, isolated school Joanne's working with over 50 students ranging in age from 8-11.

"Picasso never lets me down. He's one of my favourite artists. I find that when I read the story to the children, he really inspires them. It gives them the freedom to not be afraid to make mistakes - it's all about the wackier the better. The children don't get hung up, every child will have a success in the artwork that they do."

Joanne is so proud of her students work she's started a display at the Opotiki Library, a project which is touching the entire community.

"I watched people's reaction and they were buzzing. They loved the art, they didn't want it to leave. It will bring communities and families together to come and see their children's art. So that's awesome."

She hopes to access more funding so she can continue her work with schools around the region - inspiring young people, one art work at a time.

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