Stories of new lives captured for Te Papa

BY CHARLES ANDERSON
Last updated 13:11 01/04/2010
Nelson refugees
DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES: Three of the five Nelson youngsters who will be headed to Te Papa in Wellington to attend "The Mixing Room" exhibition accompanied by project workers Jasmine Turner and Chris Blythe are from left; Lal Cinzah, 18, from Burma, Nhi Nguyen, 15, from Viet Nam and Khai Thang, 17, from Burma. Not pictured are Lam Nguyen and Solomon Khenhniar.

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The stories of Nelson's young refugees will be on show for the world to see when Te Papa's newest exhibition opens this month.

The Mixing Room is a project between Te Papa and more than 70 young people with refugee backgrounds. They come from such diverse countries as Bhutan, Burma, Colombia, Congo, Sudan and Vietnam.

In Nelson, more than 20 young people worked on short documentary-style films about their new lives in New Zealand.

Chris Blythe, of Inspired Productions, which was commissioned by Te Papa for the project, said it was a way to get young people involved in the arts and help them learn something along the way.

"Everyone chose their own story about what they liked about living in Nelson and the opportunities they got here."

The exhibition presents the young people's stories in a range of media, including short film, poetry, performance, screenprinting and cast glass.

Five of the Nelsonians will travel to Wellington this weekend to officially open the exhibition.

Lal Cinzah, 18, from Burma, came to Nelson in 2005. He said the biggest change was the amount of freedom he had. "That is the biggest thing we have here. There is almost no freedom in Burma, and there is no life without freedom."

He told the story of his love of reading and the enjoyment he gets from visiting the Nelson library.

Khai Thang, 17, also from Burma, spoke about his experiences at his church, where he plays the piano.

Nhi Nguyen, 15, whose parents fled Vietnam, told the story of her experiences driving in Nelson.

Twelve professional tutorial workshops were held with young people in the six main refugee settlement areas – Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Nelson. The concept of the exhibition was "optimism in a new land", with the themes of challenge, connection and freedom.

The Mixing Room exhibition will open at Te Papa on April 10 and will run for three years in the community gallery.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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