Otaki College pupils build light installation for Wellington LUX Light Festival

Otaki College student Cody Manning, 11, programs LED strip lights for his school's LUX Light Festival project.
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Otaki College student Cody Manning, 11, programs LED strip lights for his school's LUX Light Festival project.

A group of Otaki College students are creating a light installation that will brighten up their town next month.

About 20 year 7 and 8 students are building and programming the archway and welcoming mat, made from recycled materials, for the Wellington LUX Light Festival. 

The project will be installed in the Otaki town centre on May 8. It is based on Te Ao Marama, the festival's Maori artists precinct aiming to bring tradition and technology together, based mostly around Wellington's Wharewaka Function Centre. 

The six-week programme is being guided by media arts educator Jess Weichler, who meets with the students once a week. 

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She said the project was bringing art and technology together. 

"Gone are the days where technical maths skills, and artistic projects are taught separately. With a varied toolbox as their arsenal, Otaki College students are articulating their sense of creativity using everything from wire cutters to LED lighting strips.

"The kids are approaching the project with a huge amount of enthusiasm. We have two main rules/philosophies for this project: 'make mistakes' and 'measure twice, cut once'.

"Nothing beats seeing a child's face light up with a new idea, or a way to solve a problem they are facing."

The project was to create a Maori entryway, and the group settled on the phrases "koru", "whanau" and "haere ma'i' as inspiration.

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The archway, which will be adorned with flowers and koru, currently stands at 1.8 metres and  festival project manager Beckie Lockhart said she was unsure what the final height would be.

The group had also woven a "Kia Ora" welcome mat out of plastic bags. 

Otaki College is one of five schools involved with the project. Upper Hutt School, Taita Central School, Hampton Hill School and Corinna School are also creating installations, based on different aspects of the festival, to display in their areas. 

Lockhart said she enjoyed watching the installations come together. 

"It's amazing. It's really interesting to see how kids' minds work. 

"All of them are going to be really great." 

It is the first time the festival has incorporated work from schools. It runs from May 12-21 in Wellington. 

 - Stuff

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