Writing history on the wall

JAMES IRELAND
Last updated 05:00 26/07/2013
Te Atatu History
INTERESTING FACTS: Cordelle Feau has been writing historical facts to go along with her exhibition at Abundance Art Gallery.

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After three years of study towards a fine arts degree Cordelle Feau is using her last year of study to compile a history of her home town, Te Atatu Peninsula.

After six months of research she had enough documentation to cover a wall in the Abundance Art Gallery.

"The goal was to create a space where people can come and learn about their community and also contribute to it. I've gone back as far as the first European settlers of the area. It's taken hours of trawling through archives at the Henderson Library."

When the 21-year-old finishes her honours study at the end of this year she aims to have put together a book that can be given a home in the Te Atatu Peninsula Library.

"Until now there hasn't really been an easily accessible resource about Te Atatu. I've learnt so much. I think what was most interesting is that before the Huntly Power Station was built there was one planned for what's now the People's Park."

Gallery owner Maryann Pennington is amazed at the number of people coming through the door with stories to tell.

"I've lived here for 32 years," she says.

"It's so nice to be able to understand more about my home. When people are telling you stories about what the peninsula was like when they grew up, you can tell they are right there in the moment."

The exhibition lets locals with memories of the town write small messages and post them up on the wall.

That also allows Ms Feau to do some fact checking with people who were there when historical events took place.

On the bright red wall outside the gallery Ms Feau has been posting short facts such as "In 1907 it only cost £275 to buy Te Atatu Intermediate's two-acre site" and, "In 1970 People's Park was proposed to be a 100 acre power station."

Ms Feau has collected historical pictures and gone to the site and taken a photo from the same spot to show how things have changed.

"I think it's important to know about the land you come from. It's important to have ties to the community and this is one way that enabled me to get to know mine better.

"I moved here when I was nine and I still call it home."

The exhibition opened earlier this month and will wind up on August 10.

Email Ms Feau at teatatuhistory@gmail.com.

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