#aWaterStory: The Artist in Residence Project Begins

…but more importantly, I became another person to them when I used their language. I stepped through the veil to be closer to them.


For the first time in a while, I didn’t feel like I was on my own striving to make something happen. I’d become pretty down – probably lacking energy and faith, which periodically happens.

A group of teachers had met with me to be informed about the Artist in Residence and multi media/lingual project I will be spearheading at the school next week. We ran the meeting in Spanish which was fun because a number fo the teachers had never heard me speak their language (we usually ran our classes in English as that’s the langauge we’re working on). They were impressed with my level, which was nice, but more importantly, I became another person to them when I used their language. I stepped through the veil to be closer to them.

I found myself watching as the idea I had proposed was being taken on. I was looking for the first time at companions and co-makers. What made it easier was tht I was presenting a story and a project of investigation about themselves – a great flood that had covered most of the city and ruined part of it in 1961.

I watched as the group began to discuss their recollections and knowledge, one whatsapped her mother to see what she knew and was feeding us with information. We discovered that an elderly nun of the college was here at the time and the school itself was flooded with a metre of water. The history teacher was getting enthused at the prospect of oral history collecting and the cultural value of the exercise.

I insisted too that the project is about the process – I will be documenting as much as I can, so that teachers can reflect on how it goes, where learning happened, where it didn’t, how they teach, how langauge is dealt with, how learners are supported, or not. As an artist I’ll be reflecting on how we communicate, how we connect with community, the content itself adn our responses in video and in my own visual work.

Arbor Day at Rata School New Zealand 1894

Making Learning in a Binary Landscape

“Arbor Day at Rata School 1st August 1894” Original image held in archives at

I rather like this photo, a small rural school community planting trees to commemorate Arbor Day in a vast deforested landscape. Today Rata is a busy New Zealand farming community. All the kids that attend that school will have access to tablets, the school will have WIFI, a great library, interactive white boards, projectors, google classroom, google earth, and links to other classrooms on the other side of the world. The community in general has more information at their fingertips in a week than the children in this photo possibly had in their lifetime. But has the process of effective learning vastly changed? Can we learn a few things from the past to apply to the present and orientate our decision making for the future?

The creation of an elearning project

When my colleague and I decided to collaborate to create an online teacher training course, the best tool I found in my toolbox to combat this scenario wasn’t technological. It was the old learning.

This Saturday at the Digital ELT Conference in Dublin, I am excited to be presenting a talk about learning and building an online course.


  1. A cultural context of learning: looking briefly at Aotearoa New Zealand Māori concepts and the need for agile learning among European settlers.
  2. Hearing from my family about our farming community in Aotearoa New Zealand and how it learns.
  3. A comparison with then and the sociology of community today and the impact of mobility and new community on learning.
  4. Our experience so far of making materials for an online environment.

Looking forward to seeing everyone there and some great chinwags. Also to watch the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday night – tips on the right pub will be appreciated! Kia kaha kapa Ō-Pango! Go All Blacks! 

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