Ko au te awa, ko te awa ko au; Creating community connections through art at the Harania Stream

Seeing hundreds of plants pulled out after a community planting day has been a catalyst for creativity at the Harania Stream in Maangere East.  The incident got Vern Togiatau (local resident, RepFM and ME Family Services) thinking about how to connect his community with the stream, to see the potential and to help care for it. “I used to play in the Harania stream as a child, go eeling and swimming.  I want our local children to be able to enjoy doing these things as well”, says Vern.

The idea for a community mural project was born, and funding was secured through Creative Communities Scheme and the Beautification Trust to get local schools and residents involved.  The mural was designed by Maangere artist Harley Wilson (Kaupapa Concepts), who used Maaori and Pasifika patterns to create a sense of connection and belonging for local residents. 

The mural was painted across several large panels by students from Maangere East Primary, Favona School, ME Family Services ECE, and local residents, and depicts a large tuna (eel), one of the long-time inhabitants of the Harania Stream.  The Pasifika designs on the mural also reference the connection of our tuna with the wider Pacific Ocean, where they start and end their lives.

The panels came together at the Harania Stream Day in early November, where the “Tuna Man” mural was blessed by Rev Peter Sykes (Chair of the Board of ME Family Services) and each of the around 60 people who participated.  The day included education stalls on waste, creating a healthy stream and taiao, a mini clean up, as well as music and a sausage sizzle by RepFM.

If you’re in Maangere East, head to the Harania stream entrance off Chadwick Cres to check out our beautiful new mural, and get in touch with us at ME Family Services to learn more about how we can all care for this taonga in our community.

Nelly Hikaiti:  Taiao Regeneration Facilitator nelly@mefsc.org.nz

Raquel Santos Sanga:  Ngahere Regeneration Facilitator/ Stream Educator raquel@mefsc.org.nz

Des Abrahams:  Waste Regeneration Facilitator desmond@mefsc.org.nz