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Just in Time – A Mobile Community Centre

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A clothing store like no other

silvia jen and netty- sharemartIMAGE: Silvia Lopez and Netty Olaya parade their bags re-purposed from New Zealand Post uniforms with Jen Whitty on the Sharemart catwalk. Image: Gabrielle McKone

Porirua is experiencing a clothing store with a difference. Situated opposite the back entrance to the North City Mall, between three ‘two dollar stores”, Sharemart is an art, design and community project providing an interesting alternative for bargain hunters and clothing lovers.

Part of public art programme TEZA: Transitional Economic Zone of Aotearoa, at Sharemart customers are encouraged to participate in bringing life to clothing, from its construction through to its performance, flaunting garments on the catwalk. The public are invited to repair their clothes, upcycle old uniforms, swap their garments and get styled.

“When customers walk in the door they step onto a shiny pink catwalk,” say artist Vanessa Crowe, who leads the project in collaboration with Massey Fashion Lecturer Jen Witty. “Rather than walking into a store filled with racks and racks of clothes, where customers are lured by bargains, Sharemart invites people to participate in the production of clothing, from its making through to its modelling.”

Sharemart has bright graphic signs similar to other fashion outlets, but inside there are just a few racks and shelves, some filled with an ensemble of items, others display neatly folded colour coded New Zealand Post uniforms. There are also work tables with sewing machines and a colourful stock of threads, yarns and bindings.

Crowe calls Sharemart a “slow fashion store” inviting the public to think about clothing in a different way. Recognised is the time and effort that goes into producing clothes as well as asking people to think about what happens to clothes once trends move on and they are no longer wanted.

The store offers a range of services to extend the life of clothes, namely ‘Repair, Repurpose, Swap and Style’ – a new economic model which promotes a more engaged relationship between the product and consumer.

The store looks to extend the life of the garments otherwise destined for landfill. A range of workshops are offered, particularly beneficial to anyone in need of work clothes or wanting to learn some new sewing skills. Swap and Style is another service, bringing clothes to swap, try on and parade on the shop’s instore cat walk.

Sharemart was born from Crowe and Whitty’s common interest in exploring new forms of exchange as well as the stories which can be told through clothing. When pitching their project idea for TEZA, they decided to see if they could support women from the Colombian refugee community, to understand their needs and help create opportunities for them while celebrating their place in Porirua.

“We wanted to give visibility to the Colombian community within Porirua, to get to know them and celebrate them being here.” say Crowe.

The project has developed since July in collaboration with a group of Colombian women, and their love of colour, dance and vibrant style has had a strong influence over the colour and dynamic of the Sharemart store. Spontaneous dance lessons that occurred during workshops, inspiring the bright pink catwalk.

During these workshops Porirua resdients Silvia Lopez and Netty Olaya produced a collection of bags from the New Zealand Post uniforms, which showcase their style and craft. The bags are for sale at Sharemart.

Otherwise the store operates a koha exchange service asking customers to consider the value of the time and craft put into creating and mending clothing, and to give in relation to their own needs. Any donations made will go to the Colombian women.

Sharemart is open now untill Sunday November 29th, with shop hours from 10am-4pm and late nights (until 6pm) on Thursday and Friday. The project has been made possible with the support of Letting Space’s Urban Dream Brokerage Porirua with support from Porirua Chamber of Commerce and property owners Kiwi Properties, and funding from Creative New Zealand and Massey University.

TEZA is a major public art programme produced by Letting Space which invites the public to consider the wealth we all share, through a coming together of discussions, workshops, performances, festivals and activities between 21 and 29 November in Porirua. The programme is available at http://www.teza.org.nz

Vanessa Crowe is a practising artist and designer, interested in how familiar everyday life conventions, such as clothes shopping can be used to engage the public in thinking differently about the world, she also produced the popular project Moodbank in Auckland and Wellington, a bank whose currency is mood, not money.

Jennifer Whitty is the founder of Space Between, based in Massey University’s School of Design in Wellington. Space Between is a new social enterprise for fashion aimed at bringing about change in the industry by exploring alternatives to mass-produced high-waste clothing, and creating ethical business opportunities for new designers. Space Between works according to two distinct, but complementary, strategies to design, with the textile waste from the current system and to ultimately eliminate waste from the industry by design in closed loop solutions. http://www.spacebetween.ac.nz

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Ever wanted to swap lives for a day?

Ako Ako

When was the last time you imagined doing another job, being another person? When was the last time you even had a chance? Who would swap their lives with someone else for a day?

Six Porirua residents ranging from MP Kris Faafoi to a year ten student from Mana College, that’s who.

A group of adventurous people have taken up the offer of becoming an artist for a day, swapping with artist Ash Holwell for his art project Ako Ako: A Roleswapping Adventure. It is part of a major public art programme from producers Letting Space, TEZA: Transitional Economic Zone of Aoteraroa running 21 to 29 November in Porirua.

In return Holwell is taking on the roles of Member of Parliament for Mana (Kris Faafoi) ; a factory floor worker (Eli Apinera, from Aspiring Walls); a not-for-profit company CEO (Tracy Wellington of Kiwi Community Assistance); a student from Mana College; and a volunteer at Wellington Riding for the Disabled (Shay Green)

During five days of the event the Whangarei based artist will be covering the roles of these Porirua residents, so they in turn can make creative contributions to the local community.

“Everyone plays an important role in the making of a community, no matter what they do,” says Holwell. “The work tries to respect that by asking people from all walks of life to teach and share with me their roles.

“Sometimes it’s not until we are asked to teach something to someone that we realise the value of our knowledge, and I want to share that privileged position with people who might not necessarily get that chance too often.”

The local residents taking on the role of artist will do so with the support of the TEZA community, which offers the possibility of collaborating with other artists, initiating projects that will live on in Porirua, and experiencing the role of creative contributor in their city.

“I’m asking if we are valuing everyone as much as we could,” says Holwell.

Updates on the swaps and interviews with the participants will be on display in a project space at the rear of another TEZA project, Sharemart at 10 Hartham Place, Porirua and through the Letting Space Facebook group.

The schedule for the role swaps is:
Monday 23rd November – Kris Faafoi. MP for Mana
Tuesday 24th November – Eli Apinera, Aspiring Walls
Wednesday 25th November – Tracy Wellington, Kiwi Community Assistance
Thursday 26th November – Year 10 student, Mana College
Friday 27th November – Shay Green, Wellington RDA & Pataka regular

For more information contact: Helen Keivom 027 258 4251

Image: A young Ash Holwell roleswapping with a fireman.

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Calling all Porirua Breadmakers!

Media Release:

A Call for Porirua Breadmakers to Share their Distinctive Traditions

How do you capture the essence of a city and its people in a loaf of bread? This is one of the questions artist Simon Gray is trying to answer as part of his project Bread Makers of Porirua, Unite! for which he is seeking involvement from members of the Porirua community who have different cultural histories of breadmaking to share and exchange. Gray’s project is part of

TEZA: Transitional Economic Zone of Aotearoa a major publiic art programme of projects that sees artists from around New Zealand work with different community groups in Porirua city to explore different forms of exchange. Culminating in a festival in late November, Gray is opening a workshop and art installation space in Hartham Place North in the CBD to share information and hold breadmaking workshops from 20 September.

Gray is experimenting with capturing the diverse essence of the city by sharing sourdough starters with people around the city. To make sourdough bread you need a starter or bug. This is simply flour and water mixed together and left for a few days to capture the wild yeast in the air. Leaving it in the open air means a loaf made in Cannons Creek will be subtle different from one made in Mana.

The ‘Mother’ sourdough bug has been started and recently went on a tour of Porirua to capture wild yeasts. Simon is giving away the sourdough bug, and can be contacted at simongray@ihug.co.nz

By getting people to take and look after the sourdough bug, Simon hopes to recruit bakers and anyone interested in bread making. The more people and areas he can get involved the more representative of Porirua the loaf will be.

The project doesn’t stop there. Sourcing local ingredients, such as making local sea salt, will be a focus of the project, along with some more unusual flavours representing the area.

A series of workshops will be run to provide support and share knowledge of bread making traditions, while developing the ‘Porirua Loaf’. More information will be available from https://teza.org.nz/bread-makers-of-porirua-unite/ and on Facebook through the Urban Dream Brokerage Porirua page.

Numerous workshops are occurring throughout Porirua City towards the creation of TEZA, which will have a major public week 21-29 November. TEZA is produced by public art producers Letting Space who are also running with Porirua Chamber of Commerce funding a pilot Urban Dream Brokerage programme in Porirua, placing art and community projects in vacant spaces in the CBD. The Breadmakers is the first of numerous art and community projects that will be appearing in the CBD over the next few months. TEZA is principally funded by Creative New Zealand with further funding from Porirua City Council and Mana Community Trust.


Bread is universal, people across the world have taken wild yeast, flour, water and salt for thousands of years and turned into a myriad of forms, this project will continue this tradition.

Sourcing, where possible, local ingredients the project will explore bread making traditions reflected in the diversity of people who call Porirua home.

Bread making has in the past involved community baking, something that is being revived in many places and this will form part of the project by looking at building a wood fired oven for use by the community to bring back the joy of producing homemade bread in a supportive and communal way.

Artist Simon Gray has worked with a diverse range of people and communities over the past 25 years. Central to his practice is a creative, collaborative and inclusive approach.

His projects explore and document topical and social issues with warmth and humour. Themes have included: ‘New Urban Camouflage” developing urban security blankets for the homeless in UK, “24 Bus Stops from Clevedon” documenting bus driver’s favourite points of their route as large scale panoramic landscapes, “Farmlife” exploring the isolation of rural Northland and “Sugarcube”, collaborating with the café patrons of Wellington to make a sugar sachet sculpture.

The input from participants is crucial to the work and provides opportunities for them to use and explore their own creativity to strengthen community resolve and resilience.

For more information contact:

Simon Gray at simongray@ihug.co.nz

021 025 75685