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Wintec | Te Pūkenga student designers pitch their ideas for new bilingual signage at Port Waikato

Third year students studying the Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication at Port Waikato. The class is working with the Port Waikato Residents and Ratepayers Association and mana whenua to develop bilingual signage for the area in English and Te Reo.  

Final year Wintec | Te Pūkenga Bachelor of Design students studying Visual Communication have been set a task to develop designs for a series of bilingual (English and Te Reo Māori) outdoor signs which present site-specific narratives to the local community, mana whenua, and visitors to the coastal town of Port Waikato. 

Angela Yerkovich from the Ratepayers Association contacted the School of Media Arts in 2022 to talk about the plans they have to build more of an identity for the Port as part of Waikato District Council’s Port Waikato local area blueprint, and to see if there was scope for a collaboration. 

This signage project is a great opportunity for students to really grasp the idea of delivering to a diverse audience, says Wintec | Te Pūkenga design tutor Luke McConnell. “Ākonga need to consider the various stakeholders when making design decisions, as the project involves multiple partnerships,” he says.

Their signage designs will respond to their understanding of significant mana whenua sites and mana whenua narratives, as well as settler narratives.

“Site visits and consultations with mana whenua are integral for a project like this,” says McConnell.

In early September the class group visited Port Waikato to get acquainted with the town and meet the various partners involved. 

Staying at the Port Waikato Holiday Park for two nights while they met with many important members of the community provided them with the basis for the area’s history and identifying opportunities for informative signage sites.

“The trip helped get the project started, providing knowledge of the history of the town and how it is today. Students could explore the area and see where their designs could sit,” says McConnell. 

The group visited Te Kotahitanga Marae (Te Kumi Paa) as part of the trip and were welcomed onto the marae through a pōwhiri, with ākonga Te Manawa Williams taking the lead as kaikōrero (speaker) for the designers.

McConnell says “At the marae, we heard about the history of the people and land and were able to learn about the highly colourful tukutuku designs that record the history visually on the walls of the wharenui.”

“We met with Rereokeroa Shaw (Ngāti Karewa, Ngāti Tahinga, Tainui) who shared her knowledge of the history of port Waikato and many stories of the tangata whenua of Port Waikato. We also met with students and teachers from the Kura Kaupapa, local iwi leaders, and other key community members,” says student Alicia Whakatutu, who is examining closely how to use two different languages in her designs.

“One important thing I am thinking about is how I can show both languages as equals to each-other. Although English is the language most people will read, it is just as important to show the language of where the story has come from and making sure this language is equal to the English language.”

“With learners at differing stages of their reo and tikanga Māori journey, this project builds on the foundations that have been laid with regards to the normalisation of te reo and tikanga Māori in the classroom, and broader teaching and learning at Wintec Te Pūkenga”, says Sam Cunnane, Group Director.

“To head out to Port Waikato and see design work that reflects what students have developed as part of their studies will really be something special.”

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