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Karangahape Road bins go from dull to dazzling

Artists and students pays homage to unique Auckland precinct

Published: 2 September 2019

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Bins get makeover

A community-based arts initiative on Karangahape Road (K Road) is turning rubbish bins and street furniture into soulful works of art - while uniting local artists.

Harunga Project curators Ahlia-Mei Ta'Ala and Momoko Burgess are leading the initiative and coordinating a team of 12 volunteers, including artists from Lifewise Trust's Piki Toi collective.

The project is being supported by the Karangahape Business Association (KBA) and Auckland Council.

University student Momoko says the original paintings on the bins and seats capture the precinct's colourful history.

"The story of Karangahape Road is such an important one and needs to be told so new people coming to the area can see its history... from its early Māori origins to the ethnic and diverse area it is today," Momoko says.

Momoko acknowledges K Road has long been a tūrangawaewae for many people (a place where people feel empowered and connected).

“For marginalised people, the outsiders, the urban diaspora – it’s a place where we can all feel we belong.  This is our attempt to acknowledge the histories and the legacies of the people before us.”

Momoko says the project is also giving emerging artists good exposure.

“It’s so cool for these artists to be able to share the work with the public."

Ahlia-Mei says all the artists are working at night to minimise disruption to foot traffic.

"The feedback we are getting has been awesome. People are stopping to thank us for transforming the grey bins into works of art," Ahlia-Mei says.

"Some are stopping to talk about the work being done and, as a result, one artist has been asked to paint something for someone."

Majority of the paint and artwork materials has been donated from local businesses and individuals.

KBA manager Michael Richardson says the bins and seats will eventually be removed as part of the K Road enhancement project.

“This project is part of a plan to liven the streets while the infrastructural projects are ongoing,” Michael says.

“We identified the Harunga Project as an exciting opportunity to provide a temporary platform for the precincts’ creative community. It livens the streets with vibrancy, creativity and colour. The artists involved have developed their concepts to reflect heritage and explore future visions for this creative and resilient precinct.”

Momoko says it’s a great example of the local community coming together to support one another.

“While many different subcultures exist along the road, we are all one community wanting the same outcome; to be able to express ourselves in a safe environment, to empower each other to feel comfortable to be who they are and to welcome everyone.”

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