In a celebration of arts and diversity at the Banquet Hall of Parliament, Te Ara Korowai have received a highly commended award at the Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards for the impact they are having within the community.

Te Ara Korowai were presented with a highly commended award in the Arts Access Holdsworth Creative Space Award category by MP Kelvin Davis.

"Te Ara Korowai is having a big impact across its community, with exceptional outreach and participation," the judges said.

"It has achieved a great deal within the resources it has.

Advertisement
Rebecca Bond at Paraparaumu Beach with a table cloth created by Te Ara Korowai students. Photo / Rosalie Willis
Rebecca Bond at Paraparaumu Beach with a table cloth created by Te Ara Korowai students. Photo / Rosalie Willis

"We were also impressed by its policy that 50 per cent of its board must be people with lived experience of mental distress."

Te Ara Korowai manager Shona McNeil received the award along with support from board representatives, tutors, staff, members and volunteers.

Having the group of them attending, "It helps to raise Te Ara Korowai's profile and hopefully attract more consumers to our workshops," Shona said.

Using art and creativity to combat mental health, Shona believes creativity brings people together who may be isolated.

"There are various international research papers on the benefits of creativity for those facing mental health challenges.

"It works from a strengths based model and looks at the person as a whole rather than a diagnosis."

Te Ara Korowai is a gifted name meaning "Embrace the path with the cloak of support".

They provide a safe, creative space for people facing tough times to find their path to recovery whatever that means for them.

Advertisement
Shaun Mcneil modelling Te Ara Korowai's award winning jacket. Photo / Rosalie Willis
Shaun Mcneil modelling Te Ara Korowai's award winning jacket. Photo / Rosalie Willis

Among the centre's arts projects and many other achievements over the past two years are the 500 handmade poppies for Anzac Day, a Tree of Life wall mural that later hung in Parliament as part of Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2018, winning the 2018 Pimp My Jacket runway event through MIX, and WordsMatter, a six-week writing project held in a community café at Paraparaumu Beach welcoming a range of writer presenters, including RikTheMost slam champion and singer/songwriter A J Crawshaw.

"This award is national recognition of the quality of our work despite existing on the proverbial smell of an oily rag.

"We hope it'll raise awareness from council to give us more sustainable funding to allow us to continue.

"There are no other creative spaces like us in Kapiti."

Arts Access Aotearoa is an organisation which aims to increase access to the arts for people who experience barriers to participation as artists, performers, audience members, and gallery and museum visitors.

The awards are a way of celebrating diversity in the arts and are the key national awards in New Zealand celebrating the achievements of individuals and organisations providing opportunities for people with limited access to engage with the arts.