Downtown Auckland residents will notice new public artworks on The Docks apartments on Tangihua St.
The three murals, commissioned by Study Auckland and Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, depict the importance of welcoming different cultures and diversity in Te Tōangaroa - an area which spans from the end of Britomart to The Strand – and Tāmaki Makaurau.
Two of the panels were designed and painted by artists Hana Maihi of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and Te Whetū Collective member Poi Ngawati bringing awareness to the rich Māori heritage and taiao (environment) on which the city was founded.
The third panel was made by Nikita Sharma, Celia Lee and Jenny Zhong, international students from Auckland University and Unitec who were invited by Study Auckland. The students participated in a three-day wānanga at Ōrākei Marae with Maihi to learn Māori history and of the mural's location in Te Tōangaroa, which is on Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei-owned land.
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"Sharing the journey of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei through art is just the beginning of how we intend to bring to life the masterplan for Te Tōangaroa," said Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Whai Rawa cultural design executive Mei Hill.
"Our vision is a space where the people of Tāmaki can come together and enjoy and respect the culture and environment this city and its people have to offer."
A design element in the students' panel is the poutama, a well-known step-like pattern seen in tukutuku panels adorning the walls of wharenui. This pattern not only provides structure to the design, it also represents the three hapū of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei – Te Taou, Te Uringutu and Nga Oho.
"Our panel depicts diversity, inclusion and culture," said Nikita Sharma who recently graduated from Unitec Institute of Technology with a Post Graduate Diploma in Creative Practice. "It has been an incredible experience being part of the mural team. The project has given us the chance to give something back to the city and to the people who have welcomed us. We hope people feel a sense of connection to the artwork."
The international students' panel was fully funded by a $20,000 grant through the Ministry of Education's International Student Wellbeing Fund. The other two panels were funded by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.