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'This Is Us - He Waka Eke Noa' - Tauranga Rotary Sunshine & The Incubator - Community Art Project

The unveiling of a beautifully painted seven metre long waka, at The Incubator Creative Hub, on Saturday 27 June, marks the beginning of a creative project designed to bring together Tauranga’s diverse cultural communities.

The ‘This is Us – he waka eke noa’ is the brainchild of a collaboration between Tauranga Rotary Sunshine Club and The Incubator.

“Art is a universal language that can help bring people together,” said Rotary Sunshine president Warren Scobie. “‘This is Us’ is more than a creative project and art exhibition – it is about going on a journey that encourages storytelling, connection and unity.”

“Matariki is the perfect time for us to launch this project,” Mr Scobie said. “Matariki is an opportunity to reflect and celebrate our history and to make plans for the new layers of our future. The whakatauki ‘Ka mua, ka muri’ means that we should look to the past to inform our future and is the essence of what this project is about.”

The project will involve a series of workshops, to be held in July, where participants will share stories of how they (or their ancestors) came to New Zealand along with their vision for the future of Tauranga. The participants will then design and decorate a hoe (a waka paddle), which will be displayed in an exhibition to be held at The Incubator, at the Historic Village, in late August.

The waka, which will remain on display at The Historic Village until the end of the project, was designed by local artists Quinton Bidois (who designed the hull) and Michelle Estall (who painted it).

“Many of us were deeply affected by the shootings in Christchurch last year and wanted to do something that celebrated our diverse cultural communities that make New Zealand/Aotearoa what it is,” said Mr Scobie. “Matariki was traditionally a time that brought communities together to share and to learn from each other which is our hope for ‘’This is Us – he waka eke noa’.”

Mr Scobie said that while the culmination of the project would be the art exhibition, the purpose was to encourage connection, understanding and unity through the sharing of stories about the peopling of the Bay of Plenty - beginning with the stories of earliest Maori settlers through to hearing from some of our newest immigrants.

“The waka represents not only the first journey over water by Kupe, but a journey that each immigrant has made when moving to New Zealand,” Mr Scobie said.

Members of community are invited to register to participate in a series of workshops where they will design and decorate a hoe. At the workshop they will hear about the history and cultural significance of the wetlands opposite the Historic Village (Kopurererua), and share their stories and vision for Tauranga. They will then be supported to design and decorate a hoe that will be displayed in an art exhibition at The Incubator in late August.

Anyone wanting to register can do so at

© Scoop Media

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