New art is a taonga

New art is a taonga

29 March 2023

Wellington-based artist Miriama Grace-Smith painted a treasured piece of art on the stairwell leading to the new Te Reo Maaori teaching and learning space at St Paul’s Collegiate School.

Miriama’s intention behind this mural was to create a visual story of the students' journey when learning Te Reo at St Paul’s Collegiate School. Miriama says, "The sea represents the Te Reo journey, the ocean is vast, the journey will take time and like waves, the journey may be full of ups and downs."

The mural is designed so that its story is felt when students leave class. Miriama, who was commissioned by St Paul’s via Boon Art says, "Students travel down the stairs from dark (night) to light (daylight) symbolising the maatauranga Maaori (Maaori knowledge) they learn and take away each day. I have chosen vibrant colours to bring a feeling of excitement for the journey ahead and I have used the same red that can be seen in the handrails and waharoa."

A mangopare (hammerhead shark) leads the tangata (person) on the waka to their destination; the mangopare is the kaitiaki (guardian) within this work and is seen on the waka and in the handrail designs representing strength, leadership, agility, tenacity, unrelenting determination, courage, and wealth.

In reflecting on the mural, Jonathan Cameron, Head of Visual Arts at St Paul’s says, “This taonga (treasure) is a vibrant addition to our Art Collection and is a work that will empower students to honour their culture and school.”

Acquiring and displaying art within the campus is a way to introduce students to the world of art. "We believe that it is important to feature artworks that acknowledge who we are as a community, both past, present and future while also featuring pieces that generate understanding of the wider world around us.”

This art was commissioned following a review of the Art Collection in 2021; this curatorial vision was conceived to guide and ground whakaaro with a commitment to acquire new work on an annual basis.