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OPINION: Pictures that speak for themselves

Saturday 21 November 2020 | Written by Te Ipukarea Society | Published in Editorials, Opinion

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OPINION: Pictures that speak for themselves
A Titikaveka College Year 10 visual art student take pictures during environmental photography programme. (PHOTO: TIS) 20112061

Photography can make a big impact in many ways. Just one photo can expose environmental problems like nothing else, writes Kate McKessar of Te Ipukarea Society.

And in a flash, we have now completed the second module in our environmental photography programme running across six senior schools in Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Atiu. 

The programme, which is funded by the US Embassy in NZ, seeks to teach our youth about environmental issues facing our Ipukarea and give them the technical skills to capture and communicate these messages through the power of photography. 

The latest participants in this programme was a group of Year 10, visual art students at Titikaveka College.  After having completed a 6-week programme, they shared their photos at an exhibition launch on Thursday evening, generously hosted by LBV Cafe in Muri.

The students have been fortunate to learn photographic and editing skills from Julian Zeman of Turama Photography. Julian constantly challenged the students to not just point and snap, but to instead approach their photography with a critical eye and to ask themselves “what message am I trying to capture?”. 

Following environmental education sessions with Alanna Smith from Te Ipukarea Society, the students then put their new photographic skills into practice out in the field. 

At Rutaki beach, they learnt about climate change, coastal erosion, sediment run off and nature-based solutions to seawalls. Te Maire Nui botanic gardens offered insights into organic gardening and the Takitumu Conservation Area also gave the students the chance to take some great shots of native biodiversity.

Julian spoke at the launch about the exciting and fun local career opportunities with photography. 

“I think it’s really important to share the overall idea that we can have our future here at home. Also, I want to congratulate the students, the photos speak for themselves.  It’s not easy being a Year 10 and having your work peer reviewed by the community!”.

Visual arts teacher, Linn-Magnhild Valderaune or ‘Miss Maggie’, also spoke at the launch saying that “after just one day of learning to use the professional cameras, I could see big stars in students’ eyes. They were inspired to run around taking pictures, it was a great experience for us all”.

Photography can make a big impact in many ways. Just one photo can expose environmental problems like nothing else. It can allow people to experience things they may not see themselves, and it can encourage people to care. For the photographer, it is a moment to pause, focus and take notice of what is around them.

Every one of these young students, armed with a camera can have a huge impact in getting their viewers to think about the issues facing our environment in the Cook Islands. One student, Kiani Hand took a photo of rubbish left behind at the Takitumu Conservation Area. The description read: “What type of people would throw and leave their rubbish in our beautiful paradise? To me I think that we have to be responsible for our environment because if no one will look after it then who would?”.

VeiVei Tauakume’s image depicted seaweed washed up on the shore: “The seaweed makes the beach look ugly, but it is natural and not manmade rubbish, so it doesn’t cause trouble to our lagoon and sea life. It does make you wonder if human pollution has had something to do with the amount of seaweed in our lagoon.”

Penina Katuke took a stunning photo of a dandy skink: “In the garden of Te Maire Nui we found species we have never seen before. A lizard that started its journey through the darkness and into the light. A dandy skink that can grow up to 20cm, endemic and thriving in the Cook Islands.”

The exhibition runs for two weeks so be sure to pop into LBV Cafe and enjoy some thought provoking art with your coffee! If you’re not in Rarotonga, you can view the photos on our webpage www.tiscookislands.org.