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Students flock to Art Gallery education programmes

Elham and Lissie

From left Kaiārahi Hōtaka ā-Kura me te Marea - Schools and Public Programmes Lead Elham Salari and Kaiwhakaako – educator Lissie Brown hosting Ongaonga School students at one of their sessions.

The winter months have not cooled the jets of the members of the educator team at Te Whare Toi o Heretaunga - Hastings City Art Gallery, who have welcomed record numbers of students to their classes over recent months.

The gallery has a target of hosting 3500 school students a year to take part in a wide variety of creative endeavours, and looks set to well exceed that for the current year, recording 1700 students in June and July alone.

The big numbers are the result of ongoing relationship-building with schools, combined with making the education programmes as relevant and accessible as possible, said Kaiārahi Hōtaka ā-Kura me te Marea - Schools and Public Programmes Lead Elham Salari.

“We always do something that’s tied to the main exhibition that’s showing – it’s hands-on, creative and playful -as well as being open-ended, flexible, and messy!”

From early childhood to EIT students – the range of ages going through the doors of the gallery has expanded over the years, with the under-fives a more prominent feature since January this year, said Kaiwhakaako – educator Frances Marten.

“In past years we have gone out to centres, but now we have an increasing focus on developing programmes to be held at the gallery, which the team is excited about and wants to see more of,” she said.

Kaiwhakaako – educator Lissie Brown is a recent addition to the team, and brings specialist skills that are proving very popular.

She recently completed her MFA at the Dunedin School of Art, working on large sculptural installations and drawings, and the work she is doing with clay is proving very popular with the schools, she said.

“It’s something they don’t do very much and we’ve had some fantastic sessions recently in connection with the Design Kahungunu exhibition.

“We had Mahora, Frimley and Kimi Ora Schools in recently - it works well that schools are doing place-based study in their curriculum and they can see the connection to what we are doing.”

This week the whole of Ongaonga School, 48 students, made their way to Hastings to take part in the programme.

Principal Carmen Edgecombe said the school’s art teacher had been working with the children on koru patterns and the chance to see the Design Kahungunu exhibition added to this learning.

“Seeing the exhibition brought our classroom learning to life and as we are also learning about navigation making clay waka incorporated perfectly into that.”

In addition, the year-round education and public programme includes public art school tours around Hastings city, some other permanent programmes such as collage workshop and My Home Town Art, and free holiday programmes and Art for Tots sessions once a month.

Find out more about current exhibitions and education programmes at

10 August 2023

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