Outsider art around the island
Matthew Muir’s weekly arts diary
Street art is generally seen as any kind of informal artwork created outdoors, often in a public location and in many cases without any official sanction.
As such, it tends to be associated with urban environments, created as a response to life in an industrialised region or large city. The modern era of street art has its origins in the 1960s, emerging in cities such as New York, and it matured throughout the 1970s and ‘80s to become a major phenomenon that has gradually spread to urban areas around the globe.
The techniques employed by street artists are varied, and include the use of stickers, spray paint - either freehand or with stencils, chalk, marker pens, brushed paint and even tiling and knitted wool.
Apart from some notable exceptions, street art is normally encountered outside of the conventional art gallery context. It is also usually intended to be impermanent, often being obliterated by city officials or local councils as soon as possible.
Frequently seen by authorities as a form of vandalism, street art can be informal and humorous in subject, but has also often been used to present controversial political and social messages directly to the viewing public.
Matthew’s long hike for health and peace of mind
When real estate agent Matthew Smith was 14, he wanted to ride a bike from Auckland to Queenstown. Back then, he wasn’t allowed; now at 41, he is instead walking the 1600km.
More than a week in, from the shores of “beautiful” Lake Karapiro, he has already battled sore feet and blisters, samba’d with a blues-harp playing Maori on a Hamilton roadside, experienced a bunch of different accommodation options, from dingy motel to quaint cottage – and had to adjust his original journey estimate of up to six weeks.
King tides highlight future sea-level rise impact
Last week’s king tides helped highlight how areas such as the Esplanade will increasingly be affected by high tides and storms given predicted sea level rises of close to one metre over the next 85 years.
Even with light onshore winds, waves splashing onto the Esplanade last
Thursday morning were gouging out the road behind the seawall, and tidal debris was spread across both the Blackpool and Anzac Bay road frontages. Locally, sea levels have risen around 16cm over the past 100 years and are expected to rise 26cm-98cm by 2100 and between one and three metres by 2300 due to climate change impacts. Last week’s king tides measured 3.22m (at Matiatia), short of the 3.6m maximum.
Perfect day welcomes new library
In an auspicious start, a shooting star and a perfectly still winter morning graced the long-awaited opening of the new library in Oneroa on Saturday.
A handsome building designed by Auckland-based architects Pacific Environments, Waiheke Pātaka Kōrero was blessed at a powerful dawn ceremony led by Ngati Paoa kaumatua WilsonMorehu with George Kahi, Otene Reweti,Waiheke High School teacher Pita Mahaki and Maikara Ropata, the granddaughter of the late kaumatua Kato Kauwhata.
The event also coincided with the end of Matariki.
Around 100 members of the public made the early start, following the leaders up to the site of the former Anglican Church, where the three carved pou were unveiled and a commanding view of the top of Coromandel revealed.
A collaboration between Ngati Paoa, Piritahi Marae and Waiheke High School, the beautiful totara carvings encompass the ideas of tika, pono and aroha or past, present and future and were designed by Chris Bailey, Pita Mahaki and Lucas Thompson, with a large number of carvers contributing.
The group were then led back around the perimeter of the building and into its interior to bless the space, accompanied by karakia and waiata.
The 10am ceremony was attended by Mayor Len Brown, Waitemata Gulf councillor Mike Lee, Cr George Wood, Waiheke Local Board chair Paul Walden and manager of Auckland Libraries Allison Dobbie, as well as hundreds of islanders all keen to explore their new library.
After a confident introduction in Te Reo, Mayor Brown joked that “like the ad for Mainland Cheese, good things take time”.
He said investments in libraries was all part of Auckland Council’s policy of “building strong communities”, emphasising the 54 libraries in the region, which between them have something like 15 million items, and “a world of information”.
“We don’t believe in shutting down libraries in Auckland. In fact we keep opening new ones.”
The Waiheke Library will be followed in coming months by other new libraries to open across Auckland, in areas including Devonport, Te Atatu Peninsula, Otahuhu and Ranui.
Running through the sustainable design features of the building, which has a pohutukawa tree motif inside, the mayor acknowledged the contributions of glass artist Lorna Rikihana, island-based artist Kazu Nakagawa, the late sculptor Bob Stewart as well as architects Phil Howard and Anthony Gibbs and contractor Gibson O’Connor, who picked up the job after former contractor Mainzeal collapsed early last year.
The mayor unveiled a commemoration plaque with three children from the Have family, whose lives have run alongside the project’s long gestation at Auckland Council.
Waiheke Local Board chair Paul Walden said the Waiheke community has been looking forward to the opening for a long time and paid tribute to the efforts of former local politicians who had worked hard to keep the vision alive.
“Special thanks to everyone that contributed to this project, from the locals that provided input into the consultation and design process, to the Waiheke library staff.
“This building is the fruit of generations of advocacy from community leaders seeking an inspiring inclusive library space that we can all be proud of.”
After the formalities, the mayor encouraged excited children to lead the way through the doors and people streamed into the light, airy new space, notable for its sunny northerly aspect and sliding doors opening out to a landscaped amphitheatre.
Children immediately headed for the ‘treehouse’, a crow’s nest atop a spiral staircase and comments about the building’s “nice feel”, pleasing colour scheme and attractive design features were everywhere.
One man who admitted he wasn’t much of a library user, said he would now be tempted to come more often to enjoy the lovely new space.
Four times the size of the old space, which is now awaiting its future purpose, the new library has vastly improved internet facilities, designated areas for study, children and teenagers and a substantial number of new books, DVDs and games. It will now be open on weekdays until 6pm and on Saturdays and Sundays until 4pm. • Julianne Evans