Shoppers will be asked to think outside the box at a creative event to be staged by EIT art students in Napier next month.

Five second-year students are organising the street event as a class exercise for ideaschool's project-based bachelor's degree in visual arts and design.

The group's proposal was well-received by the Napier City Council and Napier Inner City Inc, and the students picked up further ideas at a workshop led by Tiffany Singh, an Auckland-based social practice artist who has been involved in collaborative endeavours around the world.

Planned over 16 weeks, the project is about challenging people's imagination.


Passersby in downtown Napier will be invited to create their own works of art using a range of recycled materials - hundreds of cardboard boxes plus circular cut-outs, ribbons, fabric offcuts, and lengths of timber and dowel.

Twelve students from Napier's Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Ara Hou have test-driven the concept, choosing to build a bowling alley and castles. The youngsters, aged 5 to 11, sported crowns and also made model horses and shields to complete their medieval tableau.

The Paihere group - a Maori word meaning binding or coming together - then moved on to modifying the challenge to suit teenagers and adults.

The big test for that will be on Saturday morning, June 11, when arts students Jasmine Ruru, Kiela Te Whaiti, Tamara Whenuaroa, Shamara McKain and Cassandra Kemara set up on the corner of Market and Emerson Sts.

The boxes to be used in the event are from a 5000 lot ordered by EIT lecturer Jill Webster for a project undertaken for her master's degree in arts.

"So it's a gift that keeps giving back to the community," says Jasmine, Paihere's team leader. "The boxes can be opened up and used in a variety of ways. We're hoping it might inspire other creatives to pursue art, either as a career or as a hobby."

As well as exploring art as a collaborative process, the five agree that, as young Maori women, they have much in common.

The degree's programme coordinator, Nigel Roberts, says they are "go-getters" who are "really on to it", allocating responsibilities for various tasks - such as research, logo design, managing timelines and video-recording the event - among themselves.

"It's about having a laugh, letting loose and leaving something behind us for someone else," says Jasmine. "If that happens, then it will be a job well done."