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Tamehana Moanaroa uses graffiti art as an expressive tool for youth

November 16, 2017

Tamehana Moanaroa is starting up a graffiti art program for youth in Ngāruawāhia.

Tamehana Moanaroa wants to use graffiti as a way for youth in Ngāruawāhia to express themselves.
The 21-year-old runs a graffiti art programme called Writers Bench in Hamilton and is looking to expand his services to the North Waikato.
"There's a lot popping up about young people getting up to no good and I want to stomp on that," Moanaroa said. "It hurts to hear the negative comments about youth and instead of complaining and blaming them we need to take action."
A lot of Ngāruawāhia kids have expressed interest in the Hamilton classes, Moanaroa said. But whether it be money or transport issues it's impossible for them to get there, he said. "Born and raised in Ngāruawāhia, I want to offer these kids the same opportunities. "It's also a way of keeping them out of trouble" Moanaroa said. "You hear about youth doing crimes because they're bored. This is something to do that's better than driving without a license or jumping through a window."
Moanaroa is a youth mentor at youth health organisation Te Ahurei A Rangatahi. He started there as a youth himself. "There was someone running a hip hop programme, but the graffiti part had died out. "I resurrected it when I started working there."
Moanaroa's programme Writers Bench is based on the original New York concept. "Graffiti writers would meet up at a bench in the subway and sit and watch the art on the passing trains. "The programme will also double as a support group to empower boys into becoming good men."
As well as an expressive tool, graffiti art puts you into a positive mind space.
"The entire hip hop culture is about spreading peace, love and unity and having fun and those are the fundamentals of being in a community."
The Ngāruawāhia programme will also focus on education, encouragement and life skills. "I don't know how often some of these kids get positive comments. "I'll share things I've learnt and they can share what's on their minds. "A lot of them are nervous about what will happen after school, Moanaroa said.
"They're all drivers and artists and this is a way to enhance their skills and use them to be a positive role model in their own spaces, so they can become leaders in their own cultures."

website here © 2017 Fairfax New Zealand Limited

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