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Completed mural hangs proudly in school hall. Photo: SUPPLIED

College mural creates sense of belonging

Collaborating with others can be daunting, but a group of Waihī College students and their kaiako made everything come together when they created their school mural.
Former Waihī College kaiako [teacher] Chrissy Paterson led a group of 12 senior students over half a semester in creating a mural as part of an alternative learning programme called Creative Industries.
Students were split into two groups to share ideas, before they joined together again to discuss their findings. Ideas produced were very similar and made the refining process “easy and seamlessly collaborative,” Chrissy said.
Local Māori artist Ana-Lee Hemopo was invited to share about the tikanga and protocol around Māori art forms and weaving, and despite the students’ mahi being a contemporary process, it was key for them to know the importance of the culture traditionally, Chrissy said.
The mural’s objective was to acknowledge the four school houses – Amaranth, Dominion, Empire, and Royal – as well as major landmarks, pūrākau [stories], and legends in and around Waihī.

“We make connections to Rapatiotio [guardian of the river] and Ureia [taniwha], Whare Maia [house in the heart of the school], Papatūānuku [earth mother] and Ranginui [sky father], the tree of life situated in the heart of the school, Ohinemuri River, and our four local maunga [mountain].”
A lot of the aspects were designed and drawn by the group’s creative lead, Shaedyn Delamere.
Chrissy said in creating this mural “we wanted past, current and future students to feel like they belonged”.
“It aligns with the school value ‘Kei konei tatou’ – Here we stand.”

There are also references to the wider Waihī beach and Tuhua.
Neisha Bellamy, who was Waihī College Leader of Arts, reflected on how extensive the project was.
“It was the biggest piece of art any of us students had worked on. I think many of us felt the pressure of just how big it was, and we knew it was going to stay at the college for a very long time.”

Chrissy said Rudi Sas and his team of builders were to thank for their efforts in getting the mural up, and taking the time to do it with precision.
“It had huge sentimental value to us as a group as it was a way we could all leave a piece of us behind,” she said.
Students photographed the process and wrote blogs, which can be read on the school website,