Ngāruawāhia's Twin Rivers Community Art Centre has been nominated for a national art award, the Arts Access Award.

The Matariki-inspired piece had more than 250 tamariki from nine schools get involved to make the community art piece.

The art centre has a tradition of working with local schools during Matariki.

The focus for this project was one of the stars in the Matariki-cluster, Tupuarangi.

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Tupuarangi is the star associated with the forest and that became a focal point.

Twin Rivers Art Centre Manager, Jane Stevens, says the project sought to highlight the kauri die back crisis in Aotearoa, an issue she says requires urgent action.

"Our tamariki need to see how they too can be kaitiaki (guardians) of the ngāhere (forest) and getting them involved in this issue through art was a key opportunity we wanted to make use of," she says. The Art Centre partnered with The Kauri Project and Waikato Regional Council to get the project off the ground.

"We engaged the students with the reality of the kauri dieback crisis and the need to protect our kauri," Jane says.

"We also gifted each school with a young kauri raised from Waitakere ranges seedlings. This means they are descendants of trees which had died of the disease."

They worked with nine schools from the nearby communities — Waipā School, Ngāruawāhia School, Glen Massey School, Waingāro School, St Paul's Catholic School, Te Kura Kaupapa o Bernard Fergusson, Horotiu School, Taupiri School and Newcastle Kindergarten.

Each school was tasked with making a panel featuring a white kauri tree. The panels would come together to make a forest of kauri tree artwork. The award recognises a high standard of collaborative work within a community where there are barriers to participate in the arts.

"We're really humbled to be nominated. Whatever the outcome, we're proud to have made an impact to our community and environment," says Jane. The winner of the Arts Access Award will be announced on September 11.

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