Unique to the Opanuku Stream

A pile of old bricks dug up by Project Twin Streams Arts coordinator Kristin Kell at a community planting day on the Opanuku stream in late 2009 was the starting point for the 56 metre Adobe wall constructed the following year at Henderson Valley School. Further inspiration for the project came from the work of visionary artist Fredrick Hundertwasser – the Austrian artist famous for the toilet block in Kawakawa.

The wall, which now partially encloses the school’s Native Tree Identification garden, was constructed over a manic 10-day period in the October 2010 school holidays. Upper Opanuku stream coordinator Derek March, Kristin Kell and Gunter Andrasca worked 10 hour days over the 10 day period to bring the project to fruition. Much of the man & woman power came from the Walsh Trust, who have an adopted area nearby, and worked for 4 consecutive days and were assisted by members of the local school community and pupils.

Students also had an active role in the project design. They researched geographical features of the local landscape, flora and fauna and Maori stories around the stream.

The wall incorporates the recycled bricks found on the community planting, recycled concrete from a small building recently removed from the school grounds, recycled bottles brought in by the children and ceramic feathers made by the pupils at a stream-side art activity. The ceramic feathers reference the story of the kidnapping of the Maori chief’s wife Panuku – a story which is very pertinent to the school as the steep track her kidnappers took is behind the school. Also included is a selection of coins from each culture represented in the current school roll.

As construction got underway, it was nerve-wracking for Kristin to not know how much community input and involvement she would have over the construction period. Many people stayed and got involved for a few hours when they dropped their children off rather than signing up for the roster. On the second to last day there was a big community turnout.

Kristin said, “All the blood, sweat and tears were worth it in the end …seeing such a great outcome for the school as a result of the local community spirit was just fantastic. A real highlight for me was seeing the children climb all over the wall after the unveiling.”