Artist expresses Maori values in clay

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 20/08/2014
Artist Wi Taepa
FAITH SUTHERLAND/Fairfax NZ
ROLE MODELLING: Maori role model and artist Wi Taepa demonstrates to Roslyn School students how it is possible to excel in whatever they choose to do. 

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Whanganui artist Wi Taepa visited Palmerston North's Roslyn School as part of the Te Kiko Trust's Maori Role Models On Tour programme to demonstrate his art, and left with an invitation to return as a student.

Taepa's visit was planned to give the culturally diverse year 7 and 8 classes an insight into the range of endeavours in which Maori can excel.

About 40 per cent of the students are Maori, and there are also Cambodian, Indian and Pasifika children attending.

Teacher Maryanne Ferris said his visit tied in with a study topic about perseverance and success and how to achieve excellence in a range of activities.

The Whanganui artist was "authentic", she said, as he shared his own memories of school, where he was bored and failed to achieve.

"Some of the children related to that, but then they were able to tell him how much better things are today," Ferris said.

While the children warmed to Taepa, he in turn was fascinated with the concept of the digital classroom, she said.

"He said he is prepared to come back and give more lessons in art in exchange for lessons in ICT, " Ferris said.

During his visit the clay artist who has exhibited throughout New Zealand, the South Pacific, England, the United States and Zimbabwe helped the students make pikopiko - juvenile fern fronds.

Formerly a carver, he found clay, although not a traditional Maori medium, was ideal for expressing Maori cultural values.

The role models programme is designed to expose Maori and other children to a range of adults who have achieved success in a variety of endeavours and to give them hope that they can do the same.

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