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'This is Us' is an amazing and unique project and we are so happy you have chosen to be part of it

While the outcome of the workshop will be for you to design and decorate a hoe (waka paddle) for inclusion in the 'This is Us' exhibition, the focus of this workshop is the sharing of your story of how you or your ancestors came to New Zealand/Aotearoa and what your dreams are for the future of Tauranga Moana/New Zealand.

We've asked four artists to design a hoe (waka paddle) each to give you an idea of what your hoe might look like and the story you might like to share. One artist, Marijke de Jong, has shared her story below and we'll be adding more video over the next few weeks to give you more of an idea of how you might like to present yourself and your story.

The completed hoe and video will be presented in an exhibition to be held at The Incubator from 27 August 2020.

Sunday 19 July 2020


We've got a full day planned for Sunday so please be on time. The format of the day will be as below:

  • Karakia

  • Whakawhanaungatanga (introducing ourselves to the group)

  • Hikoi with Quinton Bidois (please bring warm, comfortable clothing and shoes, and wet weather gear if necessary)

  • Sharing of our 'stories' - (please keep your story to 5-7 mins to allow everyone to speak)

  • Designing your hoe

  • Feedback

  • Poroaki (farewell)

We'll be breaking for morning tea and lunch.

At the end of the workshop, we'll send you home, with a plywood hoe. You will have two weeks to complete the hoe before bringing it back to present to everyone at the second workshop on Sunday 2 August.


Hoe designed by Marijke de Jong

Creative Practice

One definition of culture is: A way of life of a group of people -- the behaviours, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next


We are asking all participants to think about what their journey of immigration has been. The four questions to keep in mind will be:

  1. What is your waka?

  2. What has your journey been?

  3. Who travels with you?

  4. What is your vision for Tauranga Moana/New Zealand/Aotearoa?

There are two sides of the hoe to be created. One side represents your past, culture and/or immigration story to New Zealand/Aotearoa and the other side is to represent your hopes and visions for this place.


The first side of the hoe is representative of the journey to New Zealand, whether it is a literal representation of your journey, a reflection on the culture of your past, your ancestors etc. - this is completely subjective to you, as the creator of the hoe. 


The first side of the hoe will be unique to the individual/group and their culture. The design may consist of cultural values, traditional patterns, flags, or whatever is deemed important by the participant as appropriate to their answers to the first three questions.


The second side of the hoe should be a reflection of the fourth question: what is your vision for Tauranga Moana or New Zealand/Aotearoa? Once again, this interpretation is up to you.


Participants are encouraged to use whatever artistic medium is appropriate for their story to be told, whether this be paint, photograph, carving or a medium of their choice.

Below are some more examples of hoe that have been designed by local artists Eve Bell-iyer, Karolina Bemova and Michelle Estall. We'll be adding video of Eve and Karolina soon.


Hoe designed by Karolina Bemova


Hoe designed by Eve Bell-iyer


Hoe designed by Michelle Estall


Blank hoe dimensions 118cm long x 25cm wide

Project Outcomes for This is Us

Art is a universal language that can help bring people together. ‘This is Us’ is more than a creative project and art exhibition – it is about going on a journey that encourages storytelling, connection and unity.  It offers a platform for our diverse cultural communities to share their stories, values and to learn about each other.


•       Use creative expression to develop a visual identity

•       Unpack the diversity of situations which lead to immigration

•       Share personal journeys and greater understanding of all cultures within Tauranga Moana

•       Give a voice to all communities in Tauranga Moana

•       Further awareness throughout mainstream culture of Tauranga Moana’s cultural and ethnic diversity

•       Celebrate diversity and tolerance for other cultures

•       To empower the local community to be the change they want to see in the world around them

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