Nikita Sharma, Celia Lee, and Jenny Zhong, all of the University of Auckland's Elam School of Fine Arts, were chosen to collaborate on a street painting with seasoned Kiwi artist Ross Liew and Hana Maihi of the nearby Mori iwi, Ngti Whtua rkei (tribe). Students used this effort to promote Auckland's diversity and inventiveness, as well as to investigate what it means to make public a public space.
The students were invited to rkei Marae for a three-day deep dive into the hapu's local history as part of the design process (sub-tribe). The students felt more connected to the city and to New Zealand as a result of the trip, which allowed them to identify connections between their own cultures and Mori customs and beliefs. This knowledge aided in the creation of the mural.
Nikita Sharma, who recently finished a Postgraduate Diploma in Creative Practice at Unitec, has previously worked on murals in India. “I couldn't pass up the chance to be a part of such a project. Being a part of the mural team allowed me to hone my abilities, learn from seasoned artists, and gain a better understanding of the culture. It also seemed like a fantastic way to give back.
Auckland Unlimited, an Auckland Council Controlled Organisation, led the project, which was financed by the Ministry of Education's International Student Wellbeing Fund. The project's goal is to showcase the region's diversity while also assisting international students and New Zealanders to feel welcome in Auckland.