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Autism art auction raises $12k

Wednesday 4 October 2023 | Written by Melina Etches | Published in Art, Features


Autism art auction raises $12k
The Autism Cook Islands (ACI) Takavekave Tatou Art Exhibition & Auction artists admire their collective masterpiece. ACI/23100301

The Autism Cook Islands (ACI) Takavekave Tatou Art Exhibition and Auction has raised $12,000 with a percentage of the funds going back to the student artists and to a charity of their choice, and to support the organisation’s pathways programme.

Takavekave Tatou, an Autism Cook Islands art programme, held an auction of its students’ artwork last week Thursday at The Lucky Rooster Eatery in town.

The art initiative is part of the Positive Pathways Programme for teens with autism in the Cook Islands.

Around 70 people attended the event, which was emceed by auctioneer Tony Fe’ao, the vice president of Autism Cook Islands.

Gloria Rarere-Tinirau, president of Autism Cook Islands, spoke at the event, saying that the organisation has identified a growing need for clear pathways and support from school to adult life for young people with autisms.

“ACI have developed the ‘Purposeful Life Pathways’ programme that is designed to provide training, employment, life skills, and experience in a way that persons with autism can manage… hence the birth of the Takavekave Tatou art project.”

The art pieces up for auction were painted by students: Joelle Tinirau, Reon Enoka, Moana Adams, Aporo Vano, Isaiah Vano, Eden Tipokoroa, Metua Douglas, Troy Rere, George Jnr Ngatikao, William Estall and Benaiah Fe’ao, under the guidance of local artist Glenn Miller and a band of volunteers.

William Estall, one of the students, said that the night was amazing, with quite a lot of bidding and cheering, and everything sold out.

Kat Jensen, Autism’s programme manager, said that the highlight of the event was the sale of the main art piece “Takavekave Tatou” which sold for a whopping $2500.

She said that this is a very special art piece as all the artists did a piece each making up the final piece.

Another highlight of the evening for Jensen was seeing the joy radiating from the students.

“I loved seeing the pride on their faces, it was great that their hard work paid off,” she said.

“They were excited at the bidding process, and I believe they have a great feeling of satisfaction within themselves.

“Seeing the personal growth, development and confidence of our artists over the past three months has been incredible to watch.”

Jensen added the community is very generous, a family purchased art pieces and donated them back to two of the artists and a school teacher contributed $50 each to two students’ families to help them purchase their children’s art.

Parents and families were proud and pleased to see the art pieces created by their special children.

Ralph Adams, one of the parents, stated: “What an absolutely awesome night, it was an amazing experience to see the support, enjoyment and generosity.”

“I’m so proud of all our artists, and the Autism staff/committee and volunteers are second to none, meitaki to you all for an evening to remember.”

Autism Cook Islands would like to thank their “amazing” sponsors: UNESCO, CITC Building Centre, and Armin, Pauline and the team at The Lucky Rooster.

They also acknowledged families, friends, teachers, support workers, volunteers, artist Glen Miller, tourists and art enthusiasts who attended the event, not forgetting the “awesome local community” who always support the initiatives Autism Cook Islands does for their kids living with autism.

“To those that dug deep and bought awesome and unique art pieces, thank you for your generosity,” said Jensen.

The next event up on the Autism calendar is the popular Te Kara Run on Friday, November 24. The last Te Kara Run was held in 2021 with over 700 participants, and this year Autism Cook Islands is looking at 1000 participants.