Understanding our environment through the lens of our youth was the theme of the photographic exhibition by the Year 12 sustainability class at Tereora College.
At least 50 people attended the launch at the Bergman Gallery on Thursday evening to enjoy the display of 21 photos taken of Rarotonga – the good the bad and the thought provoking.
The Year 12 “environmental sustainability” class of 2020 are the first of six high schools to undergo an environmental photography programme run by Te Ipukarea Society and funded by the US Embassy in New Zealand.
Under the steady guidance of photographer Tokerau Jim, the students have been learning the skills they needed to take quality photos. That was coupled with learning about environmental issues led by Te Ipukarea Society.
A field trip allowed the students to hear from a range of other knowledgeable experts such as Dr Teina Rongo from Korero o Te Orau and Jo Brider from the Natural Heritage Trust. Tenoa Puna from Infrastructure Cook Islands guided students around the landfill and the impressive glass crusher and Mauri Toa spoke of the cultural significance of Avana Point.
What really stood out for those attending the exhibition launch was the bright ideas and awareness demonstrated by the students who ranged from 16-18 years old.
It was a real privilege to see the art and also hear the students, Hereiti File and Charlene Akaruru, speak about what they took from their experience.
Magic Reef Bungalows sponsored two generous cash prizes on the night. Overall best photographer was awarded to Maiata Mussell for her shot of a taro patch entitled “Natural filtration system at our fingertips”.
Maiata describes her photo: “The ‘Taro Patch’ acts as a natural filtration for nutrient runoff coming from the land, before going out to sea. Maintaining Taro plantations and wetlands around the island is important, as it further protects our marine ecosystem. Our ‘Ridge to Reef’ are connected, therefore we must ensure we protect all natural ecosystems found in between. This image was taken at a taro patch right outside the Motu of ‘Oneroa’.”
The award for Most Aspiring Photographer was given to Eileen Vakapora, who won for her photo “The Selective Eye” which illustrates how we in today’s society choose to filter out the unappealing reality of environmental degradation so that we can focus on other priorities.
It is difficult to do justice to all of the photos but one that also stood out was Vaipo Mataora’s photo called “WALL-E’S World, it’s Not for Me”. The image taken at the Waste Management Centre in Arorangi showed a cube of cans baled and squashed into a cube.
Vaipo says, “I took this image because I believed it had a powerful message, which linked to the cartoon film WALL-E. In WALL-E, there were scenes of these exact cubes stacked in groups, covering the whole city in cubes of waste. When I saw these tin cubes I thought, if we don’t manage our waste properly, we could see WALL-E’s world in our world/community today”.
The exhibition runs at the Bergman Gallery for a week, until Friday, September 11 so do try to pop in a see it.
The photos are also available for viewing here;
Congratulations to teacher Chris Whittaker who was the force behind the sustainability class of 2020 at Tereora College. A big meitaki ma’ata to the students for giving us an insight into how our youth see our Ipukarea today.