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Snails colours

Arty Snails

Snails: Artist Run Space is a unique one, an ‘all-sorts’ collection of eclectic, cutting edge, avant grad and grunge. We talk to Kirsty Porter, one of three creatives behind the gallery and workshop, to discover what makes it tick.

Snail writingSo for those not in the know, what makes these guys so interesting? In a sentence – its their model. It’s right there in as the name says – artist run. The Snails space enables freedom for artists, with them able to display and sell their work in a central city location at a low cost. “We exist outside of money really,” says Kirsty. With two unique locations in the urban heart of the city, the cheap rent is covered by Kirsty and her two cohorts Sarah Bingle and Miriam De Oude, giving the liberty to do with the spaces whatever they wish. Just like any true artist, costs are kept to the smell of an oily rag so that they can keep the fabulous galleries up and going long-term for all walks of life. “We aren’t like a commercial gallery,” explains Kirsty. “No commission is paid out of the sales of the artist’s works, they just cover the power bill for their time in the space and they can sell as much art as they want. When we have exhibitions, we get the artist to take on the responsibility – the hanging, sitting and sales etc.”

Paint me a rainbowThe fun doesn’t just stop at visual art though – not only are the galleries fantastic for the community’s artists, but also musicians. At the Taonui Street workspace they have hosted bands from Palmerston North, Wellington and even Australia, playing gigs, bringing artists, enthusiasts and creatives alike together in a shared space.

For anyone who wondered, we asked the question many think – why the name Snails? Kirsty confesses the truth: “I’m a gardener, I kill snails all the time.”

Freda Kahlo“So it’s kind of my ‘I’m sorry guys – in honour of killing you all the time, I’m honouring you by naming a gallery after you.”

If you are interested in going to have a look at these gorgeous spaces, go for a stroll and head down to 88 George Street, or the corner of Taonui and Cuba Streets. Every month they have a new artist in residence showcasing new art, bringing a revolving scene of colour and talents to the coffee and arts quadrant of the city.

Find out more on Facebook.

Jo Guy

Life and Lemonade

“When life throws you lemons, make lemonade” is a saying most of us will have heard at one time or another, a poignant phrase that encourages optimism in the face of adversity and misfortune. When life threw Jo Guy lemons she did exactly that, and her blog came to life.

Keep your head upJo admits to never being much of a writer, but after experiencing loss within her family she saw herself beginning to journal. “I started writing down things every day to get the rubbish out of my head. I started doing more and more and then I thought, ‘You know what? When I look back on these journals I’ve learnt a lot, so maybe I could pass that on’. I’ve found that I love writing, which is odd because I’ve never done it before.”

Jo sought the expertise of Jumprope, a marketing firm that helped to bring her ideas to life, creating a platform for Jo to share and connect with others. Discussions of life, fashion and food are what readers find on Jo’s blog, including some of her mother’s and grandmothers’ oldest recipes. After owning her own styling business and women’s boutique, Jo also shares her knowledge of trends, colours and shapes in the hopes of building confidence and self-esteem in others.

My grandchildren inspired me; I want to reinforce those values. I’d like to address different issues in a way that children can understand.

“I met some really interesting people so I wanted to document their stories. I wanted them to write about themselves and what they had been through. It’s interesting to hear how someone else overcomes something, because we’ve all been through something, we all have a story to tell, and it’s just whether people mind telling those stories.”

The Happiness ProjectFor Jo, connecting with others is what she loves most about blogging. “If I can help somebody coming behind me or their life is touched a little by what I’ve written, then it’s worth it. I want others to know there is a way through and I hope I inspire others to keep going and to not give up.”

Life issues are somewhat at the heart of Make Lemonade, and it’s a topic close to Jo’s heart. “Not a lot of people talk about the life issues; you’ll find plenty of blogs on food and fashion. Sometimes we don’t talk about the important things enough. Because of the hardships we went through our priorities became very clear. Talking is really important in relationships, so that kind of fascinates me, how people interact and communicate.

“I think it’s trying to encourage people to sit around the table and have a meal and talk, just getting back to the basics. Maybe bring it to the front of people’s minds and remind them it’s important.”

I’ve found that I love writing, which is odd because I’ve never done it before.

With 11 grandchildren, family is a big part of Jo’s life. She is also looking to start writing children’s books inspired by her own grandchildren. “I’ve got an illustrator looking at them at the moment; I’m hoping that’s the vehicle I can use to get them out there. My grandchildren inspired me; I want to reinforce those values. I’d like to address different issues in a way that children can understand.

“I guess Make Lemonade is meant to enrich our lives, so that other people feel better for reading it and they spread that. If we all make a difference in our families and the way we live, it creates a kind of ripple effect. For us we had a ripple effect of all these bad things, and it seemed to get worse. You think to yourself, ‘I’ve got to turn this around’, and then it becomes a ripple effect for the good. Hopefully Make Lemonade gives other people that hope.”



Have you ever heard your children or grandchildren say, “My ‘happy place’ is….”?

It made me think, “What is my ‘happy place’?” What is essentially just me? This is a question for you too. We all need a ‘happy place’.

I have several happy places or favourite things to do. Spending time with family, having everyone gathered around for a meal. Swimming in our local outdoor pool, with the sun shining and the water sparkling like diamonds. I like sitting and reading a good page turning mystery novel.

I just love hanging out with my husband Bryan. Travelling, discovering new places, experiencing new cultures and foods, or walking amongst beautiful trees and gardens.

Then it occurred to me that we get caught up in our roles as mother, wife, or in our particular job. Everywhere we look there are expectations on how we should look, behave and live. But we must be our own person too. I’m sure this sense of self gets lost along the way as we get busy with all the demands on us. (“To thine own self be true”, as Shakespeare wrote.)

As I have walked this journey of losing our dearly loved son and all the events that followed, I am starting to remember what kind of person I was. Tragedy and loss changes us but we can have a new depth and growth and still find our way, I hope, to be a better person.

I have this saying up on our wall at home – “A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails”.

Sometimes we need a gentle reminder. We all have a song.

I remember I love to wear funky clothes. So this season I have bought some seriously cool drop crotch pants. I remember I like to drive a little Mini Cooper. (There’s a fond memory of learning to drive in one as a teenager.) I remember I like to sing.

This is a new beginning for me and no one has to like what I like or even approve. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that we find the person in us that we had forgotten was there.

Bringing in the donations

The Heart of Volunteering

Whether it is helping youth to reach their potential, lending a hand to families in need, or partnering with organisations to raise funds, Lyal Brenton is behind it all. Lyal’s commitment to volunteering stretches back 50 years and it continues to be a major part of his day-to-day life as a dedicated Manawatu volunteer and as manager of Goodwill.

LyalAs part of his work responsibilities, Lyal is in charge of raising money for charity as part of Methodist Social Services, a centre to help people in the community. Aside from that, he somehow manages to spread his time and skills between organisations such as Rotary, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Hospice, Red Cross, Salvation Army and Corrections.

Of all the volunteering Lyal has been involved in, the Big Brothers programme is what gives him the most satisfaction. For the past two years he has mentored an 11-year-old boy who otherwise would not have a male figure in his life. The pair go fishing, do archery and go to Big Rig days – classic boy stuff! “It’s an incredible journey watching his behaviour change and knowing that it’s from my influence that he’s benefiting,” says Lyal. “I have a passion for young people; sometimes they may go off the rails and head in different directions. But they are our future so they need development and balance.”

It’s about belonging to an organisation that affects change. There is always time for other people, we just have to get on with it.

“I get young people through here from Corrections. They come in and they’re lippy and out to prove something to the world. I had a young chap recently who was here for three weeks doing community service before going to rehab, at only 14. When he first came in his head was bowed down; by the time he left he held his head high. He cried when he left because he got a benefit from being here that you can’t actually measure. And that’s through a culture I create.” Some of the people Lyal has helped through Corrections have come back in and said, ‘Look, you helped me when I was down, you gave me food and clothes, I’d like to come back in now and help you.’”

DonationsHowever, spreading his generosity around Palmerston North is not enough; Lyal helps globally wherever he can. After disaster struck in Vanuatu, Lyal and his team packed up a shipping container full of clothing items to help those suffering. Being the Assisting Governor for his local Rotary group also means Lyal has helped with eradicating polio in South Africa and India, which he is thrilled are now polio free! “It’s about belonging to an organisation that affects change. There is always time for other people, we just have to get on with it.”

The Daly Larder

Foraged Fresh

For some, the lack of tomatoes in a salad during winter is a source of great confusion. But for chef Michael Daly, owner of the Daly Larder, it is about “sticking to my guns”, and serving delicious, quality food that is “paddock to plate” fresh, seasonal and, if possible, locally foraged.

Michael DalyFor those who aren’t familiar with the term, foraging “starts in your own back garden”, according to Michael. “There are loads of weeds that are edible greens and quite nutritious.

“There’s a plant called purslane. It usually grows along the cracks in the footpath, because it likes that little bit of dry soil and it kind of spreads out like a hand. Not many people know that that plant is absolutely packed with Omega-3, so anybody who doesn’t like fish, or doesn’t want to take oils, can opt for that. It tastes quite crunchy, it actually tastes like cucumber.

“A lot of people don’t realise that these edible weeds contain more vitamins and minerals than any of the stuff that’s growing elsewhere. That’s because it’s natural, it’s untouched, and nobody has tampered with it.”

Foraging starts in your own back garden.

Michael says he can attribute his keen sense of foraging to his grandfather, who taught him back in his home country of Ireland. “From when I was eight years old we used to go out for walks through the country lanes. He would be showing me different things that I could eat, teaching me from an early age. I’ve used this throughout my career as a chef, through getting my hands on fresh ingredients and the best of everything.”

A sign of the timesIt was the desire to work for himself, while incorporating his own values, that led to the creation of the Daly Larder – café, gourmet delicatessen and cooking school all in one, in the heart of Michael’s adopted home, Feilding. “I had a little dream of bringing my own foraging concept, and sustainable way of thinking, to life. The store is based on the idea of recycling and not wasting food. The food is fresh daily, dependent on what’s in season and what I can get my hands on.” Even the building itself reflects the theme, with everything repurposed from something, “old sheep gates to the table tops refurbished from old 10-pin-bowling lanes”.

The Daly Larder is also often home to an audience. Its unique open plan décor, with everything on display, was purpose designed by Michael. “You can see me cooking and going from one kitchen to another, just like you would sitting in your lounge at home. I can’t hide anything, so the whole concept is what you see is what you get. It’s theatre and live entertainment.”

Nick packing for a climb

Mountain to Climb

Nick Allen is a man with conquest on his mind – first the Himalayas, then the seven summits. But far more important is conquering himself, and the multiple sclerosis that would try to keep him grounded.

It’s been nine years since fatigue, muscle cramps, balance and bladder problems and restricted mobility started occurring, and five years since Nick Allan was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Nick had childhood dreams of climbing Mt Everest, so with his symptoms under some sort of control, what better place to start than tackling the Himalayas?

Always smilingNick will soon start the two 6,100-metre climbs, Stok Kangri in India and Island Peak in Nepal, mixing mountain climbing and trekking. The climb will raise awareness of and also fundraise for people living with MS. It will even go ahead with or without his doctor’s approval – “perhaps I should have it, but it was sort of a case of well, it’s do this, or die. Not doing it was not an option”.

As if the Himalayas weren’t enough, “if it goes well and I can manage the altitude okay, I would like to do the seven summits.” The seven summits are the tallest peaks on each continent, including Mt Everest. Nick hopes to be the first New Zealander with MS to conquer the seven summits. Nepal is just the trial run for bigger things to come.

Everything in me didn’t want to step into that wheelchair because I sort of knew that that was like surrendering my legs

“I am grateful for MS, I wouldn’t change it – well sometimes I would, but more often than not I wouldn’t. I think that when you’re fit and healthy and focused you don’t stop to enjoy and appreciate things.” Having been in a wheelchair and unable to do what the majority of us can, he admits there was a lot he took for granted.

At 19 Nick started experiencing symptoms of MS, especially with his bladder and legs. “I was too embarrassed to say anything about the bladder problems! But with my legs I just thought I was unfit so I started training harder.” Having a shower became a herculean task, leaving him wiped out.

MedsIt wasn’t until Nick was 25 that he was finally diagnosed. “In some ways it was a bit of a relief, because there had been all of this stuff that was going wrong, so finally there was a reasonable answer. Then it hits you, that this is it. In that first year I was in denial of the fact I had MS, I wasn’t adopting any solutions.

“But then I was like, hang on a second, I’m going to end up in a wheelchair and I’m never going to get out of it. And at 25 I was like, man, do I really want to spend the rest of my life like this?”

While over in the United States Nick’s worst fear came true; he did end up in a wheelchair and lost his vision. “When I moved there stuff started getting really bad, I was struggling. I started to have those thoughts of, ‘What’s even the point of continuing to live?’

“Mum dropped everything, booked a ticket to come pick me up then flew me home.” With Nick in a wheelchair the family relocated to Palmerston North. To get out of the wheelchair his Dad had to massage Nick’s legs every night because he was in so much pain. “Everything in me didn’t want to step into that wheelchair because I sort of knew that that was like surrendering my legs. It was the very opposite of how I wanted to be perceived.” It didn’t take him long to trade the wheelchair in for a camera – how else could he capture the view from the top?

If it goes well and I can manage the altitude okay, I would like to do the seven summits

He was able to get his symptoms under control with a drastic change in food and exercise. He credits his new lifestyle to the Jelinek diet, designed by a man who has MS himself. The diet includes very little fat, no sugars and no dairy. Initially Nick wasn’t so set on the idea of having to give up his sweet tooth. “Now if I have sugar it’ll just kill me, I’ll get headaches.”

Along with his diet and fitness, Nick has painkillers to manage tingling, a common symptom of MS. He says it is “as if you were being shock-blasted constantly. I felt like I was going to rip my skin off my face”. To control the spasticity and muscle cramps he has to stretch every morning, midday, afternoon, evening and night. As for fatigue, he chooses to not be decimated by the symptoms of MS; instead he has slowly built up stamina by exercising within his body’s limits. “Without being all airy-fairy, I’m sort of more in touch with myself and can sense my body’s limits.”

If they fit, pack themAfter being diagnosed Nick didn’t go tramping with anybody for fear that he would slow them down and become a liability. So a huge milestone for him was last year when he and a friend completed the Ball Pass on the side of Mt Cook. “What was crazy was Dad had said to me don’t overdo it, and I was like I’m going to do it come hell or high water and I got to the top and was smashed. I sat there for about an hour recovering.”

With a glow in his eye, Nick describes the unbelievable feeling he experiences when reaching the top of a climb. That moment alone explains why all the struggles, defeats, training and pain have been worth it. “My absolute favourite thing is when you reach the top and there are all these clouds beneath you and this real sense of just being on top of everything. Then in the distance you can see peaks that you wouldn’t normally be able to see and it’s just the sense of ‘I’m on top of all of this, but also look at everything there is out there’.”


Saving Students from Themselves

The Facebook superstar set up her Healthy Eating on a Student Budget page in March 2014 after demand from friends grew for more pictures and recipes of Lauren’s inexpensive, Paleo-inspired meals. In less than a year the page’s popularity sky-rocketed, gaining nearly 275,000 followers.

“To tell you the exact reason why it’s got so big, I have no idea,” says the twenty-four-year-old. “I think people connected with the fact that I was a money-strapped student and not a supermodel or a nutritionist telling people what they should and shouldn’t eat.”

Creating magicA Bachelor of Applied Visual Imagery graduate from UCOL, and former Massey student, Lauren developed a passion for food on migrating to New Zealand from her native England eight years ago. Fast forward to the present day and Lauren is totally committed to a diet of the freshest, best-quality, local food that inspired her passion – well, mostly.

“I’ll still eat carbs every now and then. I’m not trying to tell people you can’t have those foods,” Lauren explains. “My friend has celiacs disease and said her life was over because she could never have KFC again. So I came up with a recipe for gluten-free and dairy-free KFC. Instead of saying you can never have that food again I’m saying if you want a healthier option, here it is.”

I’m not sure that parents and older generations really understand how little their kids know

The Paleo diet is a lifestyle that excludes processed foods, dairy and cereals, and encourages people to eat only what early humans could catch, kill or grow. Lauren became attracted to the concept after a long battle with weight loss. “I was a chubby kid, a chubby teenager, and a chubby adult. I know now that I’ll never be the size six I always wanted to be. When I started following the Paleo guidelines it was the first time I’d thought to myself, ‘I’m not doing this to lose weight, I’m doing this to be a healthier person’.

“I was feeling absolutely miserable when I was studying and I thought I’d feel that way forever. But when I changed my eating habits I began to feel so much better mentally and physically. I think people still struggle to see food as an issue – that what you eat affects your mood – but it’s completely relevant.”

Paleo FishcakesLauren rolled her Paleo lifestyle, photography degree, and love of food together when she established her Facebook page from her Palmerston North flat. She posts healthy recipes that she creates for students, along with tips and tricks on how to maximise their food budget.

But the internet phenomenon is generating some big plans for beyond her Facebook wall. “I’m really interested in setting up cooking classes for students. There are so many of them out there who don’t know to boil carrots!” Lauren laughs. “It’s really scary what you see in a student flat. Having come from a home where I was taught how to cook I just assumed people could do the basics like me.

I think people still struggle to see food as an issue – that what you eat affects your mood – but it’s completely relevant

“I didn’t even know that mince on toast was a thing until I moved into my first flat. “I once lived with someone who grilled a sausage on the electric element. No pan, just the element. They thought that was how it was done. I couldn’t understand how someone who was so intelligent, studying something really complicated, could do something so out of this world to me! I’m not sure that parents and older generations really understand how little their kids know.”

The finished productOther projects up Lauren’s sleeve are a recipe book that she wants to be “universal, not just for university students”, and after a successful appearance at Palmerston North’s Festival of Cultures in March, Lauren is keen to get on stage for some more live cooking demonstrations. “It was amazing to have met Nici Wickes and Ray McVinnie at the Festival. I’ve admired them for years. I was cooking just before they were on and I was scared I’d ruin the demo before they came on! I didn’t pass out or burn my food though, so I think I’m good to do more.” Lauren has also been hitting the road, travelling the country and cooking for a very exciting secret project.

This girl is certainly one to keep your eyes on for the future as she continues to dip her fingers into many more (Paleo) pies.


The Flower Seller of South Street

It has been two years since nine-year-old Scott Grady and his Dad, Warwick, decided to sell flowers grown right from their own sprawling suburban garden.

According to Scott, there is a comical story that marks the moment that his project first came to light: a lady surprised the family by appearing in the front yard carrying a kitchen knife at the ready…

Scott and dogOf course it turned out that she had innocent motives. She had just one simple query – could she cut some flowers? Enough to cater for a wedding? She left with buckets brimming, leaving father and son discussing the possibility of selling flowers as a project. “I came up with the idea of it being a cart,” Scott says.

Warwick is an avid gardener; “I do the growing, the cutting and the spraying”. Scott is a busy kid who loves a project. “Scott does the PR, bulk negotiations and accounts.”

The cart is situated outside their home on South Street in Palmerston North, a busy school area with lots of foot traffic. Scott reckons most customers pick up a bunch and leave $2 in the honesty box, and many donate generously. On occasion individuals even buy the entire cartload. Dishonesty is not a common problem for them. “If we get one bunch stolen a month we talk about it, it’s unusual,” says Warwick.

It was a nice thing, you kind of think; even at 3 o’clock in the morning people are out there caring

Despite its surprising popularity, the cart is not a commercial floristry service. After a complaint was filed with the council the cart now displays a permit, which may make Scott one of the youngest registered ‘hawkers’ in the region.

For Scott it is not all about the money he can make for himself. In fact the project has turned him into a bit of a philanthropist. “Originally, the money was going towards my martial arts and swimming lessons, but we were getting too much money,” says Scott.

FlowersInstead he now donates $40 a month to World Vision to sponsor a boy named Christopher from Malawi. He has also sent some of his earnings to Red Cross in support of the Nepal earthquake recovery programme.

While there is much to celebrate, not all has been smooth sailing for the Gradys; in February 2014 Scott’s cart fell victim to a night-time arson attack.

The police arrived to alert the family but Warwick recalls that the neighbours were first on the scene. “People used the flower buckets that were already there, leaving the flowers all tidily set aside, and used the water to put the fire out.

“It was a nice thing, you kind of think; even at 3 o’clock in the morning people are out there caring.”

Naturally Scott was upset about the attack, but he responded with resilience and decided he “would not give up”.

Originally, the money was going towards my martial arts and swimming lessons, but we were getting too much money

In the week after the fire the cart received a lot of support from customers and organisations in the area. Courtesy of a local business, the cart was even given a much-needed facelift. Now beautifully painted in a glossy green, with professional sign writing to match, it makes a grand statement on the street.

The past couple of years have brought the little cart much more attention than anticipated, and business is expanding beyond the front gate. Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School now sells Scott’s flowers in the summer and Scott has also interviewed a potential franchisee.

Scott and his flowers for saleMost of all the Gradys enjoy the hub that the cart creates on their doorstep. “School children and elderly people come to sit on the fence and watch the flowers and the fountains going… there are butterflies flying around, and bees buzzing, it’s quite nice,” says Warwick.

As for Scott, he may have become South Street’s flower cart king, but he is also a kid with many projects on the go, and endless ideas waiting in line up his sleeve. He has a few words of advice for anyone who has an idea brewing: you may end up becoming “pretty famous” but he thinks most importantly you need to be original and come up with your own ideas.

Mabel in the shed

Meet Mabel, the Vintage Caravan Bar

Meet Paul and Kylie Grimmer and the newest addition to their growing family – their 1960s’ Hillcrest Hamilton ‘Silvermist’ caravan, Mabel.

The two are restoring and repurposing a very vintage caravan, taking it from “an immobile derelict sleepout to a stylish travelling bar on wheels”, as Kylie puts it.

Mood board 1Coming to the end of renovating their first home, the couple were looking for “a new and exciting project that we could do together,” Kylie remembers. The pair delight in “taking tired objects and materials and recreating them in an innovative and modern way”, and it was from this love that ‘Mabel’ came into the picture.

Initially the idea was to create a holiday home for their family, just another creative project they could put under their collective belt. But the pair saw a potential business opportunity through Kylie’s experience with event management and marketing. “I believed there was a gap in the local market for boutique and unique goods and services, particularly for the wedding and corporate event market.”

Sandblasting, welding, wiring, painting, plumbing, sewing… the list is endless!

They started their search in 2012 for the right caravan and found it two years later in Whangarei Heads, some 12 hours north.

“The caravan had been located beachside and been stationary for 30 years. Needless to say, she had to be brought back on a trailer, which was a long journey that saw the loss of two windows along the way!”

Old lightsEvery inch of Mabel will be restored from the ground up, “along with a few sympathetic alterations in order for her to take on her new hostess role!”.

“Sandblasting, welding, wiring, painting, plumbing, sewing… the list is endless!”

With their passion for being hands on, Paul and Kylie are planning to do as much of the renovation process as they can themselves. “With the assistance of some talented local engineers and electricians for the tricky technical stuff,” Kylie says.

I believed there was a gap in the local market for boutique and unique goods and services, particularly for the wedding and corporate event market

The hope is to have the finished product looking “classic and romantic with a modern twist”.

Distressed wood, marble and brass – finishes often thought of as strictly ‘permanent dwellings’ – are going to be utilised in creative and refreshing ways.

Mood board 2The ultimate goal is for Mabel to be a “sophisticated and stylish” travelling bar that will be the home and centrepiece of their successful business “Meet Mabel”. Mabel will be ‘met’ and hired for private and corporate events once the renovations are complete, and will be equipped with all the trimmings, “of which many will be built and created by us”. “She will also be available for private photo shoots, dining and select local public events as well.”

“It’s about creating a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!”

Follow Mabel’s journey on here on

A world of creativity

A world of creativity

Thirty proud Maunga Kura Toi students celebrated their artwork last week with the launch of Nga Kete Toi – Te Wananga o Aotearoa art exhibition. The studio is now showcasing a whole world of Maori art waiting to be discovered, and the student artists are eagerly waiting to take everyone on a culture-filled journey. Beautiful weavings, carvings, and paintings are on display, each with a unique story behind it.

Oriwa Morgan-Ward, WaiwheroPainter Oriwa Morgan-Ward is one of the students with works on display, and is thrilled with the exhibition. “Maori art is not saturated, this is a great opportunity to bring it to the rest of the world,” she says. “It’s a way of expressing ourselves, to the public that haven’t experienced life in the world of Maori.”

Oriwa’s painting, Waiwhero, is one of many on display exploring concepts in colour, form, composition and light, to tell a beautiful story of womanhood. Each artist shows immense support and respect for one another, not shying away from showing off each other’s art. While Oriwa is speaking of the process behind creating a painting, she takes a moment to credit the patience carvers have when it comes to making mistakes, “at least we can paint over it! It’s a little harder when you’re a carver.”

Pru Robbie, RarangaPru Robbie, a level six student, has a striking Raranga (weaving) on display that wasn’t an easy task! “It takes a lot of practice to get it right, if the cuts are too deep or too shallow the whole things ruined.” Her approach was to have a simple pattern that was achievable so she could focus on neatness, “then I’ll do something amazing another day”. “I’ve named it Whakawhiti Korero, which means to make back and forth conversation. I have a lot of international people come through my house, then they’ll see this hanging on the wall and ask what it’s about. Well then I can explain Maori tradition, Maori art and create conversations about it.” This flax isn’t just any old flax from the bottom of the garden either – Pru had to travel a considerable distance from her home to find that perfect strong fibre content, and that was the easy part! It then took her two months to put her weaving together. “It’s about doing the practice, doing the hours.”

Up and coming artist, James Wall, whakairo (carving) that was 14 weeks in the making. He started with a piece of wood and has slowly chiseled away, creating a stunning end piece. Each carving presented in the exhibition represents a waka and two gods, depending on the artist’s iwi. Maori art is cleverly full of hidden meanings and spiritual beliefs that are left to be discovered by everyone else. Each line and mark carved into the wood means something. “I wanted to do this because I wanted to get back into my culture,” says James. However, he’s not shy to admit there were a few times things weren’t going to plan, causing a little tension between him and the slab of wood. Seeing the outcome though makes it all worth it. “I think Maori art should be shown to the world, these artworks are something I hold dear.” James is already planning for the future – “I want to try do a bit of contemporary art and maybe even a teaching paper.”

From everything on display in this exhibition, you can see there’s a lot of heart and emotion involved in the art. The spirit behind it, the feelings they evoke, the history… these artworks represent the artists’ family, heritage and who they are. For these students, who they are is all about where they’re from, and their art allows them to express and honour their ancestral knowledge.

The exhibition is open until the 1st October 2015 between 9am – 3pm Monday to Thursday at 32 Ngata Street, Palmerston North. Go check it out and discover a world of Maori culture.