Creative risk at Corban Estate

Ok so following on from yesterday’s plug there’s something else worth voting for in The Trusts’ Million Dollar Mission: the Corban Estate Arts Centre (CEAC). A few years ago the wine company Corbans moved on from their premises at the corner of Great North Rd and Swanson Rd. Waitakere City Council purchased the old winery, left almost all of it intact and installed a vast range of artists and art projects into its numerous nooks and crannies.

CEAC has produced a bunch of well known and cool emerging artists across diverse media. Anton Parsons, Lemi Ponifasio, Peter Lange have all been closely associated at some stage; Katie Smith (ok so I’m biased), Numa McKenzie, Jermaine Reihana and Red Leap Theatre are some of my current new favourites, and there’s a huge range of culturally targeted things like Mixit, Pasifika Arts Centre, and the Kakano Youth Arts Collective*, which are as important as they are innovative. There are many, many more.

To put it simply: CEAC simply gets tons of people making tons of art. They hold numerous open days when any one can wander in, talk to the artists, check out the work and buy it if they like, and their kids’ art day is a joyous, multitudinous, thronging mass of – you guessed it – ART. For free.


Kakano is a programme at CEAC which gets vulnerable young people into art, who might not otherwise have the access, and which has had some great successes. As well as helping people find a voice and make strong cultural connections, they’ve also managed to get some graduates into tertiary art programmes.

So that’s kids off the street, making art; more art overall; positive vocational outcomes; and, oh yeah, it’s also reduced the amount of what some squares call “unwanted” graffiti.

There’s something very powerful about this kind of programme. Sure, it’s good for the young people who take part. But it also has a directly positive impact on our wider culture, because it benefits directly from their artistic contribution to it, such as through the gallery exhibitions, or the public murals (on walls often donated by local businesses) all of which open a window on the young people’s perspectives of West Auckland. And that’s a window which – frankly – we can’t afford to close.

*Actually it’s got a macron over the “a” – making it twice as long i.e. Kaakano – which I have yet to figure out in WordPress.

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