Tenants, mainly from Granville Flats, Central Park, Newtown Park, and Te Ara Hou Flats, have written stories, created artworks, and taken photographs that express life in City Housing which presents a counter-narrative to the often negative stereotype of social housing.
Over 30 tenants from a wide range of cultural backgrounds worked with facilitators David Cook (photography and art), Mark Amery (writing editor), and Anna Brown (designer) on the independent art project.
The project also includes the contributions in a citizen’s newspaper with creative writing, columns, stories, photography, artwork, and even crosswords, to be printed by the Dominion Post in late March, and distributed as an insert and by hand around City Housing facilities.
There are also features on some of the great resident-led initiatives in these communities like The Fixery, and groups the residents are involved with like Koten Dance Group and Amigos Peer Support.
One of the contributors, Debbie McGill, talks about starting up The Fixery in 2018, workshops for tenants to be more sustainable by creating, fixing, and restoring items.
“Instead of throwing things out, we would try and restore things. So someone might bring down an old chair, or the handle that has come off their jug. They can try fixing it themselves.”
The Light Boxes exhibition and newspaper edition includes images of residents’ homes and artwork. Contributor Danny Marsters says: “I assemble pictures, junk, and toys – make art out of it. Usually, I give it away as presents. Some of it I use to make my own little art gallery at home.”
“This project will amplify voices that are often unheard in city discourse and will stimulate public dialogue on the value of social housing,” says Manager City Housing, Angelique Jackson.
The project is created with the support of the Wellington City Council Public Art Panel, Toi Āria: Design for Public Good, Toi Rauwhārangi, College of Creative Arts Massey University, and the Dominion Post.
“Ko Te Reo ō Ngā Tāngata provides the voices of those living in social housing. The exhibition and newspaper provide tenants’ views on some immediate issues that affect them, and demonstrate the connectedness and creativity of our social housing communities,” says facilitator David Cook.
The Ko Te Reo ō Ngā Tāngata | The People’s Voice Courtenay Place Light Boxes exhibition opening is on 25 February, 3pm-4.30pm. It will include a blessing and City Housing residents, and the public are warmly invited to attend.
Sendam Rawkestra will also be performing, which includes City Housing residents.