New Delhi: Unitec graduate, Nikita Sharma, along with Celia Lee and Jenny Zhong, based at the University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts, were selected to design the mural in conjunction with experienced Kiwi artist Ross Liew and Hana Maihi of Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, the local Māori iwi (tribe). The students celebrated Auckland’s diversity and creativity in new public artwork which allowed them to work with two established artists and to explore what it means to make public art in New Zealand.
As part of the design process, the students were invited to visit Ōrākei Marae for a three-day deep dive into the local history of the hapū (sub-tribe). The experience helped the students feel more connected to the city and New Zealand, allowing them to see similarities between their own cultures and Māori traditions and values. This understanding helped inform the design of the mural, which was painted alongside two other murals designed by the iwi.
Nikita Sharma, who has just completed her Post-Graduate Diploma in Creative Practice at Unitec, has created murals in her home country of India and jumped at the chance to make a positive difference here in Auckland. “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be involved in such an amazing project. I love being in Auckland and being part of the mural team gave me the chance develop my skills, learn from experienced artists and understand more about the culture. It also felt like a great way to give something back to the city and people who have welcomed me. I hope that people feel happy and connected when they see the artwork.”
The project was led by Auckland Unlimited, an Auckland Council Controlled Organisation, and funded through the Ministry of Education’s International Student Wellbeing Fund. The project aims to celebrate the region’s diversity and to help overseas students and New Zealanders feel welcome and included in Auckland.
More about the Mural:
-The mural includes a Poutama pattern, which steps up towards the middle and represents the idea of gaining knowledge and insight
-The pattern is commonly used in Māori weaving and is used here, along with other inclusive patterns, to symbolize the interweaving of different cultures into the fabric of the city.
-The river running through the design is used as a symbol for life and nourishment and represents a historical waterway that runs through Auckland.
-National flowers are used to illustrate the rich mix of cultures that contribute to the life of the city. The flowers are all viewed from the same angle, highlighting common ground between the many cultures who call Auckland home.