Pou Ora: caring for Tāmaki waterways through art and community

March 13, 2022

Pou Ora: caring for Tāmaki waterways through art and community Pou Ora: caring for Tāmaki waterways through art and community

Artist Chantel Matthews-Perawiti is combining art and community to raise awareness about Glen Innes’ waterways.   

When approached to do an artwork within Maybury Reserve, Chantel formed the ‘Pou Ora’ Project with a focus on awareness surrounding the conditions of local waterways in Tāmaki, in particular, Ōmaru Creek.  

With support from local organisations, including Tāmaki Regeneration the project has given community access through an exhibit at Glen Innes library, a weaving wānanga with local Ko Tau Rourou Weavers at The Good The Bad Gallery (TGTB) and a temporary sculpture at Maybury Reserve. 

“There is a desire to connect the community and assist in restoring the Maybury Reserve Ōmaru Creek as a clean and flowing waterway,” says Chantel.  



The library window displays a large image from Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections that shows Chief Water Quality Inspector Stan Augustowicz and Technical Officer Dominic McCarthy checking the Ōmaru Stream for traces of contamination – taken in 1988.  

Inside the library are a selection of curated books and items Chantel collected around Ōmaru Creek and Maybury Reserve, such as waste, water and a dead tuna covered in polluted waters and waste are on display. 

Both displays show “not much has changed in our waterways when you compare the image taken in 1988 to today, there is still a lot of work to do,” Chantel explains 



Pou Ora is about bringing life into our waterways, with the community’s support.  A steel sculpture symbolising three wāhine stand as kaitiaki with detailed hand-woven marine rope done alongside local weavers Ko Tou Rourou led by Karen Nathan and joined by Jamie Te Huia Cowell.  Having the weaving wānanga on display at TGTB gallery meant the community could walk by and engage with the project.   

“Working with Ko Tau Rourou has been an amazing experience. They have been so supportive of the kaupapa, and they believe in it.  They are a lovely bunch of wāhine.” 

The name Ko Tau Rourou comes from the Whakataukī  - or Māori proverb ‘Ko tōu rourou, ko taku rourou kia ora ai te Iwi’ which means with your basket and my basket, the iwi thrives.  



Once the installation is complete, the sculptures will be placed in Maybury Reserve from early March for a year before a permanent location is secured.  

“I would love to acknowledge and thank Mana Whenua, Ngāti Pāoa, Ngāi Tai Ki Tāmaki, TRC, Walkspace, Ko Tau Rourou weavers, Jamie Te Huia Cowell, Gary Silipa at TGTB Gallery, Glen Innes Library, Icon Signs, and Ben Cotton Fabricators”. 

Pou Ora is proudly supported by the Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board, Auckland Council, and Tāmaki Regeneration Company.  


Images provided by Glenn Bloomfield (IG: @art.blomf)