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School artists unofficially open the new Mahara Place

Thursday 26 September, 2019

Young Kapanui School artists unofficially open the new Mahara Place

It’s September – time once again to present the wonderful work of primary school children’s artistic impressions and observations about the environment.

He Whenua Ora, Living Land is the 2019 exhibition which results from an eight-year collaboration between Nga Manu Nature Reserve and Mahara Gallery, with the support of the Philipp Family Foundation.

More than 150 children from Waikanae’s Kapanui Primary School created an unofficial opening for the newly refurbished Mahara Place with haka and waiata to launch this year’s Nga Manu-Mahara Gallery Children’s Art and Environment Project.

They were all aged between nine and eleven years’. Over the past seven years, more than 1500 pupils from every primary school in Kapiti have taken part in the project.

Mahara Gallery Director Janet Bayly praised the concern young people were showing for the environment.

“Primary and secondary school children just like you are feeling worried about climate change, and want to do their bit to tackle it,” she said. “It is a new term called eco-anxiety which describes the fear of global warming, and that not enough is being done to stop it."

Philipp Family Foundation Trustee Irene Mackle said New Zealanders don’t appreciate just what they have in the New Zealand environment.

“We all have a chance to join together to save it,” she said.

As part of the project, the children spent time at Nga Manu and in the Gallery, learning about the natural world and recording their impressions in paintings and poetry.

The end result is an exhibition of the children’s work at the Gallery, which is both framed on the wall and also in the form of poetry and rap on film produced by Dean Hapeta.

Both art works and poetry have been captured in the 90-page book that includes the children’s own comments on their work and their experience of the project.

“This project puts learning more about the environment and art and poetry together, and we hope has given you some new ideas and creative ways of thinking about what you can do to look after the natural world better, reduce pollution and look after each other too,” said Janet Bayly.

Among those Janet Bayly thanked for their involvement were the Philipp Family Foundation, Nga Manu staff and Board, artists and poets in the project - Harriet Bright, Michelle Backhouse, Dean Hapeta and Mary-Jane Duffy – and book designer Amanda Smart.

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