Sharon, Ethel and Denzyl

Last week we were lucky enough to attend the Human’s of Hendo exhibition and book launch at Corban Estate Art Centre in West Auckland.  We were blown away by the fantastic photographs and thought provoking words of the 21 young people who created this very special exhibition.

Humans of Hendo is a creative project sharing stories about Henderson, West Auckland, seen through the lens of a camera and the eyes of young people aged 14-16 at Target Education, an Alternative Education centre for young people who excluded from mainstream school.

Over the past year, young people have worked with photographers and mentors from Toi Ora Trust supported by their teacher Manuela Adams. The challenge was to take the camera to the streets of Henderson taking photos of the people they met to strengthen the relationship between the young people and the Henderson community. It took courage to step out of their comfort zones, approach and talk to people, engage in conversation with shopkeepers and local residents in Henderson Town Centre to tell a unique story which has culminated in this fantastic book and exhibition.

It is clear in the book how generous locals were with their time and words. It shows that beauty, inspiration and love can be found in unexpected places. It reminds us to look for the human in our communities.

One of the artists named Sharon, 16, explains:

“My art work tells the story of the different shades that are in our community and the different characters, realities and different dimensions. It gave us the opportunity to communicate with our local business operators on a positive and professional level. This project has made me feel confident in my talents. In the future my dream is to be a music producer.”

At the launch I chatted to Sharon and her classmate Denzyl about their experiences. Sharon, 16, said she had got so much out of Human’s of Hendo,  It was obvious by how her face lit up how excited she was to share her photographs with me and talk about the journey.

“I got to take really nice images and really use them. I am so proud of this book and exhibition. It makes me feel excited and happy. It was a really joyful experience. I didn’t want to go to school. I didn’t know what to do there. At Target they went over and over the work until I understood so now I know what I am doing. I love it there.”

Her mother Ethel couldn’t be prouder of her daughter. She has watched her grow and develop through this project. “I am so proud of her achievements. She now has confidence and hope. I am very grateful to the people who led and guided her through her education at Target. She is a changed girl. A very happy girl.”

Denzyl stood up at the launch with confidence and pride and thanked the tutors for giving him the opportunity to see all the different sides to Henderson.

In the book Denzyl explains, “My art work tells the story of the other things you can find in Henderson, not only the stories of youth fighting, drugs and homeless people on the streets of our town. I enjoyed this project because it was something I completed to a high standard and the team were patient and encouraging.

My dream has always to be a mechanic, but I will always value photography. I feel a sense of pride and achievement to be part of this project for over a year. My art work tells the story of colour, style and dreams.”


Sharon tells Liz about her photos in the book


Young photographers from Target Education at the launch