Taonga Wāhine

2015 – 2016

  • Te Hau Ora O Ngāpuhi


To celebrate and promote women's health and safety in Kaikohe

A two-day intergenerational creative workshop was held for women in Kaikohe, where whānau worked together to explore the concept of safety. They designed their own patterns and screen printed them. On arrival, our participants were hesitant. Some came from the women’s refuge; their stories are personal and the creative nature of the workshop was unfamiliar. By the end of the workshop, these same women were brought to tears with pride. Their designs and fabric turned out to be beautiful! They took their mahi home and sent samples of fabric to whānau around Aotearoa. ‘It’s all about whānau really, being safe is about whānau to me. Bringing your kids up in a safe environment around your whānau, telling them about your whānau. So it’s all based around whānau.'

Where do you feel safe?

Who makes you feel safe?

What makes you feel safe?

I thank you all for creating such a beautiful display of our very personal stories and designs. I am happy for the exhibition to travel around the motu as I also believe that these stories, portraits and designs convey a very powerful message that will strengthen the sisterhood and in turn will strengthen the whānau.

– Workshop participant

Taitamariki on the ĀKAU Futures! programme designed an exhibition that told the stories of the families from the initial workshop. Working with the concept of home, they created a place where most people feel – or should feel – safe, to exhibit the works in. Each Futures! student adopted a family and designed a piece of furniture to accompany their portraits and their fabric. Whānau were continually included in the execution of the project, their contributions celebrated along the way. Professional photographer Caren Davis captured beautiful family portraits which were gifted to the participants. The exhibition was designed and installed by taitamariki inside an empty shop in Kaikohe. It confronted viewers with questions about what safety meant to them and what does taonga wāhine mean – who are strong women to you?

Photography: Caren Davis