An art project funded by the Ministry of Education's Creatives in Schools programme has been inspired by the students of Paekākāriki School's hut building in the playground.

The Ministry of Education invites schools and kura throughout New Zealand to apply for funding to deliver a new creative project in partnership with a professional artist or creative practitioner.

Applying for funding at the end of last year, the Ministry of Education invited schools and kura throughout New Zealand to apply for funding to deliver a creative project in partnership with a professional artist or creative practitioner.

With one of their school teachers also a local artist, Paekākāriki School applied, were successful in their application, and the project has now been completed after slight Covid-19 disruptions.

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Teacher and local artist Alayna Flighty and students from Paekākāriki School in one of the teepees. Photo / Rosalie Willis
Teacher and local artist Alayna Flighty and students from Paekākāriki School in one of the teepees. Photo / Rosalie Willis

The project's aim is for the creative learning experience to enhance the wellbeing of students and ākonga and develop their knowledge and skills in communication, collaboration, and creative thinking and practice.

It also aims to raise the students' awareness of careers in the arts and creative sectors and benefit their preparedness for the future of work.

Local artist and teacher Alayna Flighty worked with the students and staff on the project to create an interactive work or art which had every student in the school involved.

"I pitched a couple of the ideas to the staff and they picked this one," Alayna said.

Inspired by the students, the finished project consists of four bright, colourful teepees which the students decorated themselves and can play in.

"This is something you can actually use at lunchtime and morning tea as opposed to a mural which is a static thing," Paekākāriki School principal Julia Bevin said at the opening ceremony.

Interactive works of art created by Paekākāriki School students in collaboration with teacher and local artist Alayna Flighty. Photo / Rosalie Willis
Interactive works of art created by Paekākāriki School students in collaboration with teacher and local artist Alayna Flighty. Photo / Rosalie Willis

Speaking to the students, Julia said the inspiration for the teepees came from the students' love of building huts in the playground.

"We knew there was so much hut building that went on in the playground that we thought why not utilise that interest and the skills you have to come up with a project.

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"We thought there would be no better person than Alayna to help us with that."

Paekākāriki School teacher and local artist Alayna has a special interest in facilitating process-based art.

Process art is where the end product is less important than the process the students are undertaking to get there.

That being said, the end result is four colourful, interactive works of art which the whole school was able to participate in, displaying the heart of the school through art.

"The kids were the artists, I was more of the facilitator," Alayna said.

"The two ideas I pitched were both interactive, but one was more static, this is more usable for the students to enjoy.

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"I'm so happy with the end result, I didn't know what they would turn out like.

"When you're working with children it can go anywhere."

Especially when you get every student in the school involved.

Alayna visited classes during the planning phases, and then let the kids loose with paint on canvas before setting the canvases out as an option for the students to work on during their 'slips' spare class time where the students can work on their own projects or choose what they want to work on.

"There was a real organic flow that happened as they came and went and there have been some really special moments during this project.

"I gave the students the colour pallet and they have created something really special, really vibrant and exciting to look at."

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Speaking to the students Alayna said, "You came up with the idea yourself of incorporating the values of our school into the teepees.

"Belonging, exploring, thriving and connecting - you've interwoven that all into the artwork.

"I think it's really cool to show that you truly know what your school is about without me having to put any of those ideas into your head."

Supposed to be finished at the end of term one, Covid-19 disruptions meant the teepees are now complete in time for winter, to shelter from the rain rather than the sun.

Set on the field with concrete around the bases, they withstood last week's stormy weather and are set to feature at the school for years to come.