Traditional artistry taught

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Raincoat ... Tayla Eckersley, aged 10, works on a pake, a traditional Maori "raincoat" PHOTO: DAVID HILL

By DAVID HILL

Tuahiwi School pupils have been learning traditional Maori art, thanks to a grant.

A “Creatives in Schools” grant, a joint initiative between the Ministry of Education, Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu Taonga and Creative New Zealand, has allowed the school to employ two local artists for 100 hours to teach traditional Maori toi (art).

Kaiapoi sisters Lisa Harding and Corabelle Summerton have been taking a group of 18 pupils from four different classes “on a journey of learning” since term one.

The group recently visited Canterbury Museum and an exhibition in the Arts Centre during Matariki, which featured modern and traditional artworks from 12 Ngai Tahu artists, including the sisters.

“It was really nice for them to see that Maori art has a place in the modern world,” Lisa says. “It’s about identity, of finding out where they fit and where they have come from and there’s value to that.”

In the classroom the pupils have been learning about the various techniques involved in traditional art, before working on projects in pairs for an exhibition.

The children have learned about gathering their own materials, including working out how much harakeke (flax) they need, before cutting their own.

They are also learning how to look after their art resources and prepare them properly.

“Harakeke was one of the main resources in pre-European times,” Lisa says.

“The introduction of wool changed things a lot and it was feared that traditional practices would be lost.

“So by teaching it to these guys, it helps to keep that artform alive.”