Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern put her art skills to the test in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Whangārei's Hihiaua Cultural Centre today.
Ardern, alongside her Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni and associate arts minister Kiri Allan, was tasked by Aotearoa education group HĀ to create a piece of art which reflected the group's mission to promote Aotearoa history in schools.
It followed a warm welcome of the Prime Minister and many of her ministers to the centre by tohunga whakairo (master carver) Te Warihi Hetaraka, kaumātua Fred Tito and others at the award-winning facility.
Earlier in the morning, Ardern attended the National Iwi Chairs Forum in Whangārei, which recently put forward six recommendations to the Government which were a priority for minimising the risk of Covid-19 for Māori and the public.
That was the extent of her Whangārei duties before heading back to Waitangi ahead of tomorrow's dawn ceremony at Te Whare Rūnanga on Aotearoa's national day.
During Tito's welcome of Ardern at Hihiaua, he referenced the "big changes" to the nation under her watch, which was later responded to by Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson, claiming such changes - with respect to recognising tangata whenua - were unique to this Government.
Ardern, speaking in front of centre and HĀ whānau, referenced former Prime Minister Helen Clark in how Aotearoa's history would influence the future.
"It's an opportunity for us to combine what shapes us as a nation," she said.
HĀ co-founders Justice Hetaraka, Rhieve Grey, Rhoen Hemara and Kate McLeod then challenged Ardern and her ministers to create a piece of artwork which spoke to their desire to see Aotearoa education taught in schools.
Despite her clarification that she was a "politician not an artist for a reason", Ardern - also an associate arts minister - employed a simple but sleek design on a black, square canvas, writing in white paint some traditional school teachings alongside Hītori, the Māori word for history.
Allan, whose use of red paint posed a real threat to her white shirt, painted a poem she had written as a 15-year-old in Waitangi about her identification with Aotearoa history.
Whangārei MP Emily Henderson added local flavour to proceedings, depicting Limestone Island and the Whangārei Harbour.
In attendance were several Whangārei Girls' High School students, who had taken part in HĀ's inaugural education programme, Kākano. The fortunate students were able to quiz Ardern, Allan, Sepuloni and Henderson on their relationship with Aotearoa history.