Henderson Town Centre Project, Auckland, New Zealand.

The reduction of vandalism and graffiti through arts based place making and youth engagement.

This project responded to a request from stakeholders within the Henderson Town Centre for vibrant and positive public art that could cover multiple sites, and create visible change within selected public spaces. Public spaces blighted by graffiti and vandalism.

Our project methodology utilised the power of Public Art to engage with youth to reduce vandalism and graffiti sustainably in the short and long term. It did this by linking a series of public art making events to entry portfolio requirements to higher education in art and design.

Image: Kakano Youth Arts Collective member Nate Cole with Community Constable Marty Speers. Henderson Pop-Up Space, 2016.

The project’s success relied on facilitating partnerships between Local Government, Unitec Institute of Technology, and a local Henderson community outreach organisation the Kakano Youth Arts Collective. This combination of institutional resourcing and stewardship, government funding, and essential local knowledge and social connections was a vital set of management tools.

The project involved engaging local 16 to 20 year old youth who have a Police record of vandalism and graffiti, but have been identified through the outreach program as being creative. These young people are the peer group to the 12 to 15 year olds, also engaged in tagging and vandalism but deemed too young for the project.

The methodology involved a series of public artwork strategies and mentoring workshops by well-known street artists. Permanent and temporary public artworks were supported by skills based workshops such subjects as screen-printing and hand-lettering. This work program produced a series of high profile permission based public art initiatives, authentic, and capable of constant renewal. They were structured to create a visible and achievable staircase into an Art and Design education pathway. A path previously seen by the youth to be unattainable. Our program of creative practice and mentoring ensured a connection was made by the youth between their tagging designs and the skills and approaches inherent and required in a commercial design.

To date, the program has measured a 60% reduction in vandalism and graffiti within the town centre.

Paul Woodruffe MLA
Unitec Institute of Technology.
[email protected]


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