We are very proud to have supported the Mairehau Children’s Voices Photo Exhibition, which has been wowing visitors in and around the Shirley Library, Christchurch.
This unique ‘Photovoice’ exhibition was a creative way for primary school children to express and illustrate their wishes for the future, their community and their world.
The exhibition was part of the Mairehau Neighbourhood Project – a collaborative, community-led approach to enable families to realise their aspirations for their children, to reach their goals and to become better connected within their community.
The project focused around Mairehau Primary School, exploring what parents and children would like to happen in the future and how the community might make this a reality so that Mairehau becomes one of the best places to raise a family – a happy, safe place for children and their whanau.
Around 170 children from Years 5 to 8 at Mairehau Primary School were involved, taking photos of friends and classmates expressing their feelings about Mairehau – the things they value and things they would like to change.
Working with professional photographer and documentary maker, Kim Boyce-Campbell, the children learned how to tell a story using a photo essay technique and how to take portraits. They experimented using different lighting, backgrounds and framing, using different angles, sequences and shot sizes.
The students then went around their neighbourhood taking photos of things they liked and those they did not. Later, they took photos of each other holding the speech bubbles containing their thoughts and ideas for the future.
Some of the common themes that emerged from the children’s thoughts’ included, the environment (less graffiti, more rubbish bins, more colour), local facilities and activities (more skate parks, drinking fountains, community activities), how people treat each other (people being nice, encouraging and trusting each other, more smiles) and safety (bully free, drug free, less swearing, no violence, no gangs).
Thirteen photos were chosen for the exhibition to represent the dominant themes. The large photographs were displayed on the outside of the library windows (like on bus windows), with some displays inside. Some of the children’s wishes which appeared inside handwritten speech bubbles included, “No drugs and clean environment”; “More trees, flowers and gardens”; “More people being nice to each other and more help in the community”; “I want the streets to be way more colourful”; “Less gang, more smile”; “Kindness and caring and less swearing”.
Ginny Larsen from Neighbourhood Trust said they had had excellent feedback from everyone involved.
“Teachers said it was huge growth experience for the children. They developed confidence in their ability and ideas. Parents felt privileged that their children had been part of this project. The kids themselves enjoyed the challenge and surprised themselves at what they could produce. They felt listened to and glad to be able to have their thoughts portrayed in a public place. Library staff were pleased to have the exhibition in place over the holiday period. It was the first time there was no graffiti.
“Standing outside the Library, viewing the exhibition, I’ve had lots of people comment on how moving it is and that they love seeing the faces of local children.”
This project was a true collaboration between Neighbourhood Trust, Te Ora Hou Otautahi, Mairehau Primary School and Kingdom Resources with support from The Tindall Foundation.