Students Shine Light on Social Issues with Creative Exhibition

Massey University Students with Poneke Community members. Photo: Libie Nguyen.
This story has had 213 views!

Photography by Libie Nguyen

Massey University’s ‘Creativity in the Community’ class of 2024 showcased their semester’s work in an impactful exhibition titled ‘The Cost of Living Crisis.’ Held on May 30 at the Newtown Community Centre -Te Whare Hapori o Ngā Puna Waiora, the event presented three new creative projects developed by the students, addressing critical social issues with an eye toward actionable solutions.

The exhibition featured two short films and a zine, each delving into significant concerns faced by the Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington community. One film, created by Bachelor of Communication student Maria Williams and her group, highlighted the challenges of unpaid work placements, while another addressed the struggles within the Wellington rental market, offering insights into tenant rights provided by the Citizens Advice Bureau. The accompanying zine celebrated local community workers from organisations such as Everybody Eats and Women’s Refuge, who tirelessly advocate for social change.

Libie Nguyen, a student from the course, expressed satisfaction with the event’s outcome, saying, “The event turned out amazing with lots of good feedback and the number of people that came and enjoyed along, was over what we expected.” Nguyen reflected on the process, noting, “It’s sometimes tiring during the work in progress stages, as we have a lot on our plates, but it’s always nice to see and have great results.”

The evening concluded with an open kōrero, featuring speakers and guests from influential community groups like Ngā Pou Whakawhirinaki o Aotearoa Citizens Advice Bureau, Downtown Community Ministry, Peace Action Wellington, and Paid Placements Aotearoa. This discussion offered further engagement and a deeper reflection on the highlighted issues, fostering a sense of community and shared purpose.

Professor Elspeth Tilley, the course coordinator, emphasised the importance of applying academic learning to real-world challenges. She remarked, “It’s important that students get a chance to test out their learning by experiencing the messy realities of working with a real community partner and issue. After this, they are ready for anything.” Tilley’s enthusiasm for the projects was evident as she spoke about the semester’s focus on solutions, which provided both hope and inspiration.

This year’s projects not only reflected the students’ concerns about the cost of living crisis, such as renters’ rights and unpaid student work placements but also celebrated the community’s efforts to make a positive impact. “It’s been a very uplifting semester seeing the focus on solutions, and I am looking forward to celebrating the release of these new works with the students and the community,” Tilley added.

The exhibition provided a platform for Massey University students to display their creative skills while also strengthening the bond between the academic and local communities, highlighting the transformative power of creativity in addressing societal challenges.