Reflecting Karangahape Road

Mel SAms
Resident artist Mel Sams adding character to trash bins along K’ Road

By Christopher Evans

A group of artists with experience of homelessness have introduced a splash of colour on Karangahape Road.

The redevelopment of one of Auckland’s most iconic thoroughfares provided opportunities for art.

The vibrant art reminds residents, workers and visitors of the distinctive character of this part of our city.

Artists including the Lifewise sponsored Piki Toi Collective have turned rubbish bins, and other street furniture, into art.

The seats the Piki Toi crew painted are a homage to Hape, Karangahape Rd and links to Ihumātao.

“We’ve named our seats te karanga a Hape, says Tiare Turetahi, Ngati Kahungunu. The the seats’ korero is about our connection to whenua and how important it is to our wellbeing. Making this work on K’ Road has given us the opportunity to share this story with other artists involved in the Harunga project and sharing whakawhanaungatanga with other people on the street.”

Karangahape Road has long been a haven for disenfranchised Aucklanders and people living at the edge of society.

The redevelopment is part of the city rail link project.

This major development will change the fabric of this pulsating inner city community.

Although change has benefits it is important to retain the essence of what makes K’ Road special.

Karangahape Road is a place where people who feel marginalized have a place to belong, be part of a community and a family.

The road is named after the legend of Hape. Hape was excluded from boarding the Tainui Waka, leaving Hawaiki, because he had a club foot.

However he wasn’t one to be left behind and hitched a ride with a stingray.

He beat his brothers here and performed a Karanga, traditional welcome, upon their arrival in Point England.

“This project is part of a plan to liven the streets while the infrastructural projects are ongoing,” says Michael Richardson, K’ Road Business Association. 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 precinct.” 

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