Community Flag Project: Matariki Owairoa (31 May – 31 July 2024)

Arts Out East, Te Tuhi’s Arts Brokers promoting arts and culture in the wider East Auckland area, has partnered with the Howick Village Association to deliver a very special project for this year’s Matariki celebrations. This large-scale community project, which has involved nearly 300 local Tamariki guided by the artist Chantel Matthews, has led to the creation and installation of flags along the main street of Howick Village, Picton Street.

The concept behind the 2024 Matariki project has emerged from a series of kōrero with Whaea Taini, from O Wairoa Marae, and Pita Turei, who shared stories and wisdom of Mātauranga Māori. These enriching exchanges, combined with thoughtful research of symbols by Arts Out East broker Briana Woolliams, have inspired the creation of four mythical creatures: Taniwha, Dragon, Tuatara and Tuna. These creatures have been transformed into Matariki Kaitiaki (Guardians) through the drawings of local Tamariki from Owairoa and Mellons Bay Primary School. The involvement of Tamariki and Kaiako highlights the community-driven nature of this project.

The children's drawings, etched into the cosmos of these creatures, come together to form a kind of constellation. Other than just being visually spectacular, the four creatures’ transformation into Matariki Kaitiaki is a testament to the Tamariki's imagination and creativity that transcends the boundaries of their classrooms. It encourages them to look up and beyond, fostering a sense of unity and connection while acknowledging the land, mana whenua (Indigenous authority), and community at the same time. 

The four creatures, which come from the sky, land, and sea, act as guardians of the environment and natural resources, preserving them for future generations. Artist Chantel Matthews said about the project: "That which we nourish, will nourish us in return".

Located on each of the flagpoles in Picton Street are QR codes to access more information about the project as well as an online display of all the drawings by both schools as a digital exhibition. Moreover, on Saturday 15 June the artworks got featured on a looped slideshow at Uxbridge Arts Centre for the Matariki Festival in Howick. Click here to preview the online exhibition of Mellons Bay artworks, and here to preview the online exhibition of Owairoa artworks.

Howick Frames (14 June – 14 October 2024)

Following the flag installation, on Friday 14 June, Chantel Matthews’ work in collaboration with the students from Owairoa and Mellons Bay schools was installed in a series of three posters within the Howick Frames.

Located on a large white wall at 61 Picton Street, the Howick Frames provide a platform for local creatives to showcase their talents in a public setting. The aim is to foster community engagement and celebrate the cultural diversity of Howick.

The Matariki Owairoa designs will be displayed on rotation in the Howick Frames for the next four months, until mid-October 2024. Each month, a different series of images created by local Tamariki will be shown.