Ko Wai Ko Au Ko Au Ko Wai – I Am Water, Water Is Me
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Kaupapa Moana, Kaupapa Wai Maori, Kaupapa Awa Ocean, fresh water and rivers Water is both life-giving and life-destroying. Today, the purity of all water sources are threatened or impacted upon by a range of factors. Both locally and globally, water has become economically, environmentally, ecologically, culturally, spiritually, and politically one of the most significant issues of our times. Aotearoa’s / New Zealand’s international reputation for being ‘clean and green’ has been slowly but steadily eroded over recent years. Significant events over this past summers include swimming has been banned at ten Auckland beaches this summer (2017) due to human and animal waste, rivers becoming too polluted for swimming (with ‘wadeable rivers’ as the national standard for rivers), town water supplies being contaminated (Havelock North), dams being proposed to assist in intensifying dairy farming (Ruataniwha), aquifer rights sold to multinational companies (Ashburton), while drought takes hold (Canterbury, Hawkes Bay and East Cape). Rural and urban areas face different yet connected problems. In this brief, Communication Arts 3rd year students from AUT – Auckland University of Technology initiated enquiry and research into the state of water in Aotearoa / New Zealand, for a global audience. Using storytelling, communication, and visual language, students developed an experimental and exploratory project to consider water in our cultural spaces. Taking WAI – Water, as a theme, they worked to propose strategies and provocations that consider water in both the literal and metaphoric senses. Addressing the political, geographic, socio-cultural, environmental, and ecological issues of water, each student developed conceptual and visual approaches to their selected area of interest. The project was conducted during 12 weeks resulting in a publication and a collection of practical work.