Student Exhibition Shows Community It Takes a Village
A showcase of wise words, shared stories and powerful photographic portraits is the finished product of a project by
students at Bruce McLaren Intermediate School, following interactive visits with residents of Henderson’s Wilsher
Village and Vision Waitakere Gardens.
Opening at Waitakere Central Library on 3 May, the exhibition It Takes a Village is a collection of images taken by
students and the narratives they gathered while spending time with, and learning from, the experiences of people from
different generations and cultures.
Students developed skills in meeting new people from different backgrounds and connecting with older people in their
community. They also produced written work including poetry and letters of thanks, which are displayed alongside the
portraits in the exhibition.
Wendy Claire, Auckland Council Community Development Worker for Older Adults who established the relationship with the
village residents, says the project has fulfilled multiple community development aims.
“Students have not only learnt new skills, those who took part from both generations have forged connections with each
other and built a sense of altruism, which is a platform for a stronger community and a relationship stretching into the
future,” says Ms Claire.
It Takes a Village began from an idea to work with residents of older adult villages in Henderson and capture their rich
life experiences. It was expanded to include a cross-generational component of year 8 students from Bruce McLaren
Intermediate and photographer Liz March joined the team adding her skills to teach students photographic techniques and
mentor them through the project.
Sue Berman, research and heritage oral historian at Auckland Council, said the project presented an opportunity to
develop a greater understanding of the experiences of older new migrants in our communities.
“Oral history recordings capture the feelings, descriptions and reflections of people about events and places in their
lives. This adds a rich resource for future researchers not often found in the public record. Students also learnt the
art of asking questions, and used the narrative material they collected as an important aspect in their final exhibition
works,” says Ms Berman.
Jun Li and Yen Shuju supported the project at Wilsher Village by translating on behalf of Chinese residents who have
more recently made the village their home.
The documentary material produced by this project is to be archived the Research and Heritage West Auckland Research
Centre, Auckland Libraries, following the exhibition.
This project was organised by the Auckland Council’s libraries and community development departments and funded by a
Creative New Zealand grant to the McLaren Park Henderson South Community Initiative Inc.