Māori and Australian artists collaborate to create artwork opposing remote community closure

By Taiha Molyneux
Mural created in Melbourne by Jason Manukau and a fellow artist at the Powerhouse

A talented Māori artist teamed up with an Australian artist, combining their skills to paint a mural in support of the Aboriginal people’s battle to stop the closure of over 200 remote communities in Western Australia.

Jason Manukau of Tainui and Ngāti Mahuta has been recognised worldwide for his talent in the art of airbrushing, specialising in portraits and his latest collaborative effort in conjunction with his friend Ian Lowe on display at the Power House in Melbourne has generated passionate feedback .

The young boy depicted in the painting is Dwaine Taylor, the nephew of a friend of Jasons who is linked to the Mitakoodi Tribe in Cloncurry through his mother, Jordan Ah Sam and the Noongah people of Western Australia through his father Jason Taylor. 

Jason Manukau says the idea for the mural came about after he saw a photo of the young boy circulating online in the campaign against the closure of the remote communities.

He says, "I asked them if it was cool to paint the image to show our support to the Aboriginal brothers and sisters and they were happy for us to paint the portrait, the image has been greatly received and we have seen it popping up on social media."

Supporters on social media say the mural itself speaks, “more than a thousand words.”

Jason's work has been recognised worldwide by international celebrities which include  The Rock and TYGA, to name a few and he continues to use his talent to draw attention to issues he is passionate about.

As Māori support grows in Australia for the indigenous communities impacted by the impending closures, supporters in New Zealand are also increasing with events being organised here to show opposition to the closures.

This Saturday a gathering will be held in Auckland to raise awareness of the situation. A number of musical artists will attend the event to perform and show their support which will include Tama Waipara.

The 1st of May will also see gatherings held simultaneously both in Australia and New Zealand under the banner of an Official Call to Action to Stop the Forced Closure of Aboriginal communities. The Auckland contingent of supporters led by Marama Davidson will gather in Auckland central.

While the conversation surrounding the closure of these communities continues to flare both online and on the ground, New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key has remained tight lipped on the issue refusing to comment saying, "this is a matter for the government of Australia.”

However Māori MP’s have been more vocal with their support for the Aboriginal communities affected.

Earlier this month Gerry Brownlee denied co-leader of the Māori Party, Marama Fox leave from the House of Representatives to vote on a motion to condemn the Australian Government’s impending closure of remote indigenous communities in Western Australia.

The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott will visit New Zealand next Monday for the Dedication of an Australian Memorial at Pukeahu Park in Wellington.

To find out more about the upcoming gatherings follow the links below.

Saturday the 18th Aprilhttps://www.facebook.com/events/1377563769237233/permalink/1379938748999735/

Friday the 1st May https://www.facebook.com/events/1560990274154721/