A tiny corner of Papakura is helping to change attitudes towards the town and its young people.
Nestled in a quiet row of shops on O’Shannessy Street, The Corner is supported by Papakura Local Board, where chair Brent Catchpole says he’s been impressed by the hard work, commitment and passion for the town shown by the staff.
“Young people can endure a lot of bad press but when you take the time to get to know people a little better, you discover their ambitions for the town they call home are no different to your own.
“They want a better town, one where people connect in a real community, valuing what each has to offer.”
It’s all about harnessing creativity at The Corner, which since its opening seven months ago has become home to the Papakura Youth Council, kapa haka groups, DJs, the Real World Living group for differently-abled people, and sewing groups.
“Papakura is a great place, but some people don’t seem to think so, and we want to change those conversations so that people see us as a vibrant and creative community,” Jaak Black says.
The most visible signs of The Corner’s influence on the town are impressive murals adorning several walls in the town, all painted by local artists.
On Saturday, Canopius Café is getting one too, with five artists collaborating on the project.
“We are turning it into a bit of a party, with kapa haka from Taniwha Ventures, DJs Rep FM, and giant games and activities for children,” Jaak says.
In art-speak, it’s an activation, where local people come together to use a space and turn it into a better place.
“There are so many creative people in Papakura so it’s about valuing that and celebrating talent,” Kiana Henare says.
She joined The Corner determined to make a difference. “I want people to hear Papakura and think positive things, about how talented the community is, and how creative.
“We come up with ideas and we run them past our mentors and we’ve already reached a place where our kaupapa is that people should be rewarded for their talents, they should get paid.
“It’s about showing creative people that their talent is valuable, just like they are.”
The Canopius event runs from 10am-2pm but Jaak and Kiana are staying quiet about what will appear on the wall. “The artists want it to be a surprise, but I think people are going to be impressed.”
On 15 December The Corner is hosting a Haka in the Square jam session from noon onwards.
“People can just come and do their thing, but we’ll have local groups and performers, spoken word, singing, contemporary dance, poi-making and even a few spot prizes,” Jaak says.
Like many youth initiatives, funding is always a problem. Anyone who can help can visit The Corner at 85 O’Shannessy St in Papakura or email firstname.lastname@example.org