Saturday, 24 March 2018

Big Hoot's Little Hoot

Last year I had the pleasure of working with 4 Year 8 students in the Big Hoot's, Little Hoot fundraiser for Child Cancer. This experience cemented my belief that Art is an amazing way to encourage students to communicate with each other, where they otherwise would not.

To start we gathered together to talk about what this fundraiser meant to them. Cancer had affected each of them differently. Next we discussed what story we wanted our owl to tell. I gave them paper copies of the Owl so they could start designing what they wanted to paint on the Owl. They all had to make compromises and listen to each others ideas. There was the obvious joking around however they knew the enormity of the Charity we were supporting and I was really impressed with how mature they all became pretty quickly. I could see they were taking this project seriously. They wanted our Owl to tell a story of the students at Pt England School who are largely made up of Maori and Pacifika backgrounds.

We named our Owl Te Ahorangi which means 'enlightened one'.

The colours were chosen and the base coats began to go down.

The design on the front of Te Ahorangi became a Maori tribal piece of art. Even though all students were working on all parts of the Owl they each had a personal task that they had designed themselves and wanted to paint. As Isaac began to paint the front of the Owl he soon began to have doubts on how he had approached this.

What impressed me with Isaac was that after he had painted the outline of his design he asked the others what they thought. What followed was a deep discussion between all four artists on how he could make it better. Everyone had advise for him and it was done in a positive and caring way.  I could tell he was frustrated but he decided to paint over his design and start again. We bought some slim paint pencils and the process began again.

Chris took on the task of designing the moku which covered Te Ahorangi's head.

David and Danielle took on the task of painting the wings. The wings were bright and bold and full of life which is how they wanted to represent our Pacifika students. Danielle first played around on the white board to decide how she wanted to approach her painting.

Davids creation coming to life.

                                                           Danielle starting her design.

When I looked at the wings once they were finished a sense of enormous pride came over me. I knew from the looks on David and Danielle's faces they were feeling the exact same emotion.

As I am a year 3 teacher these 4 seniors had to paint inside my classroom when the weather was bad, and in doing so had to involve themselves with my students, who had many questions for them. They were patient and took the time to explain what they were doing and why they were doing it.

When they were waiting for paint to dry they took photos and blogged about this incredible journey they were on. They gave up their lunchtimes and arrived on time every day ready to get to work.

 The collaboration between all four students was wonderful to watch. They were not best mates before this experience but I would hope that after working together on this project they have a new found respect for each other. If they had a disagreement over colours, designs etc,  it was talked about calmly and with a great amount of maturity.

 Rangitoto was included to represent our magnificent Maunga standing proudly in our harbour.

This experience has been the highlight of my teaching career. I want to thank Isaac, David, Chris, and Danielle for allowing me to guide them along a path of exploration in Art. Here are the final photos.

This year I was thrilled to find out that Te Ahorangi was one of 3 Owls entered by 40 schools to be displayed in the city. I went with Danielle to the Auckland City Library to take a photo.

So in conclusion, art is all around us. In it's many forms it represents fantastic opportunities for discussion, focussed language work and skills based activities. It represents the Key Competencies which to me, is the base of all learning. Art breaks down boundaries of social status, religion and cultures. It gives students a voice where they may struggle otherwise. Art is individual beauty and  expression for everyone.


  1. I have had a great time owl hunting.
    I found yours in the library looking very cool!

    Karen Ferguson

    1. Thanks Karen, as you can see from the photos we all had such a great time getting involved in this fantastic opportunity to support Child Cancer.