Kaiwhakahaere / Creative Director
“For me, Kākano began as a bit of an experiment; a 9 week pilot programme in 2013, with 5 colourful and interesting young people, referred by Child Youth and Family. From there it has snowballed into one of the larger parts of my life.
I have had the privilege of walking alongside so many young people over the last 7 years, helping them to realise the amazing talents they have locked inside.
It hasn’t always been easy – in fact sometimes it’s just downright hard, but the joy of watching a kid’s spark when they have created something that they are proud of, is pretty magical.
We have accomplished so much in our journey so far, and I feel humbled to have had so many people support our kaupapa and help to create a loving and nurturing space for our rangatahi.”
Manatū Waka / Transport Coordinator
“I started working at Kākano back in 2017 when they first started really needing a driver. At first we were using Mandy’s car and then my own, which worked at first but pretty soon we started to realize we really needed a van, with more students coming in and many unable to find their own reliable way to class. We were gifted our amazing new van last year and it has been a life saver!
I love driving the kids, they’re funny and I enjoy the simple task of helping them get their day started by having a lift each morning and safe ride home in the afternoons. Even if that means sometimes almost having to drag them out of bed in the mornings or driving all over town tracking them down.
I love seeing the murals they create and how proud they are of the artwork they do. It’s more than just driving them, I’ve grown to really care about the kids and their whanāu, hearing about what’s going on in their lives and what they get up to on the weekends etc.”
Ngaio Whitiwhiti Kōrero / Communications Coordinator
“In 2015, my last year of my Communications degree at Unitec, I had a class called Communication Production, where our assignment for the semester was to produce a marketing plan for Kākano.
This was the first time I met Mandy and learned about the amazing Collective she had created that used art as a catalyst for positive change. I was blown away by the positive impact this kaupapa was having on the lives of West Auckland youth, and I especially admired how this programme catered to youth in our society who are so often forgotten, dismissed or marginalised.
And then I saw for myself what these young people were capable of; the raw artistic talent that lay within. So not long after I graduated in 2015, I joined the Kākano crew as a volunteer marketing coordinator, determined to support the Collective to grow and develop a strong public profile.
Fast forward 5 years and this role has become my favourite side project. Nothing makes me happier than finding creative ways of telling the Kākano story, sharing the art made by our rangatahi and encouraging people of all walks of life to enjoy everything this little Collective has to offer.”
Pou Atawhai Toi Rangatahi / Art Tutor
“I was born and raised in Waitakere Auckland. I attended Kura Kaupapa at Hoani Waititi Marae and have also become a long time member of Ngā Tūmanako Kapa Haka Roopu.
I graduated with honours in Māori Visual Arts (2012) from Massey University, Palmerston North, and then took part in the 2013 Te Atinga 25 years of Māori Art Exhibition which helped to establish my professional arts career.
I’m a studio artist at Corban Estate Arts Centre and a Kaiako for the past 5 years working with Kākano rangatahi. Through this role I have a unique opportunity to share the skills and techniques that I’ve learned at art school and apply them in a way that can manaaki and tautoko marginalised youth to express their life experience through a visual medium, which can be empowering and liberating for them.”
Pou Atawhai Toi Rangatahi / Youth Support Worker
“I’ve been totally loving my role as Youth Support Worker with this wonderful crew since early 2019. I found myself here after several years as Behaviour Support Worker for at-risk students in high school and many years as a voluntary Refugee Support Worker, a role I still do and get great joy from.
My role at Kākano involves supporting students to navigate obstacles in their lives, anything from making and getting to medical or dental appointments to making them a hot cooked lunch during Kākano sessions. I cherish the opportunity that the Kākano youth give me to build trust with them, advocate for them and just ‘be there’ for them in times of need.
I love my work here, every day is different and the Kākano vibe is positive, loving and effective. I get real joy from advocacy work and relish the challenge of helping to find solutions to problems that impact our kids. Working alongside the artists and seeing the creativity and success they find in themselves is a beautiful positive in a role that can be challenging, but also deeply rewarding and heart-warming.”
Pou Atawhai Toi Rangatahi / Art Tutor
“I became part of the Corban Estate Arts Centre family in the role of Schools Education Coordinator in 2014. This soon evolved into joining Mandy to support her when her Kākano pilot programme highlighted the desperate need to provide a creative sanctuary for some of West Auckland’s more vulnerable youth.
The programme has grown so much in the 6 years I have been a part of it, working in the role of Arts Educator and Youth Mentor and I would like to think I have grown in so many ways alongside it.
Having come to New Zealand from England originally this role has taught me so much about the arts, environment and culture here in New Zealand for which I am very grateful. Especially moving from a creative film and television role into an educational role I have enjoyed expanding my own artist practice particularly focussing on ceramics currently which transfers very well into a healing and expressive art form for many of our rangatahi.
I am so very proud of our little community and the reputation that we have established here and the youth that have embraced their individual importance.”