Waikato artist and curator Leafa Wilson is taking on the new role of cultural activator for South Waikato as part of a pilot programme to work with local communities to tell the district's stories, build residents' creative skills, and seek creative opportunities.
The Cultural Activators Pilot is a one-year initiative within the Arts and Culture Covid Recovery Programme established by Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
South Waikato is one of eight pilot communities targeted nationally for the resource, with Creative Waikato being the successful applicant to host the role.
A Tokoroa-born child of the Samoan diaspora, Leafa is a multimedia performance artist, art curator, and writer, with a biography bursting with accolades.
She completed a Master of Philosophy (First Class Honours) from the Auckland University of Technology in 2020.
Leafa has exhibited widely in solo and group art exhibitions both in New Zealand and internationally. She also sits on various art and cultural advisory panels and has worked as an art adjudicator and mentor.
Leafa joins the team at Creative Waikato from Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato, where she worked as an art curator for 17 years.
She has a deep understanding of South Waikato's cultural needs and narratives and will draw from her skills, experience, and established connections.
Leafa will work with organisations and individuals across Tokoroa, Putāruru, and Tīrau to deliver projects to increase individual practitioners' confidence, as well as access and participation in relevant and extraordinary cultural activities.
At the top of her list is helping people identify their creative strengths and confidence in the creative ability innate in all of us.
"In South Waikato, there is such a richness of cultural tradition and contemporary practice that exists already," she says.
"I am honoured to be able to serve the communities that helped me to form as an artist and curator."
Creative Waikato CEO Dr Jeremy Mayall says Leafa brings a wealth of skill and experience to what is a unique role for South Waikato.
"This pilot programme has a really exciting vision for supporting the wellbeing of communities through arts, culture, and creativity."
Jeremy says the role will have a positive impact on the communities of South Waikato.
"This type of activation and celebration of arts, culture, and creativity within South Waikato clearly aligns with the Creative Waikato vision for the region, and we are so excited to see what will emerge through this pilot programme."
Leafa will be based throughout South Waikato, as well as in the Creative Waikato office, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.