Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
Otara town center was a blaze of colour on Friday night, with the launch of the ‘Brown & Beautiful’ art exhibition at the Fresh Gallery.
The portraits in the exhibition are of the mentors who participated in the Sisters United Young Queens programme – a year-long mentoring programme run in Auckland High Schools for Year 12 and 13 Pasifika students.
They deliver educational and creative workshops such as spoken word, dance, crafts, and life skills to enable young women to explore their talents, build resilience, develop their leadership skills, discover their worth, and encourage them to chase their dreams.
The mentors use their voice and leadership skills to give back to other young women, to stand up for what they believe in and to show other Pasifika girls they are brown, bold and beautiful.
Year 12 student Samoan Alisha Leulualii is grateful for choosing to be part of the programme.
“I made the decision to join the young queens programme this year with the ultimate intentions to build my confidence and educate myself more about the greatness of women’s empowerment,” she says.
“Sisters United provided a safe platform; young women with countless knowledge, about life after high school, secure job empolyment, providing self-worth with workshops reiterating to dream big.”
Sisters United NZ is founded by the Goebel sisters, Parris, Kendal and Narelle. In it’s fourth year running, the year-long mentoring programme and this exhibition is a celebration of the current intake.
“We’ve worked hundreds of workshops and hundreds of girls, we’ve got four programmes in the community we’ve got 400 youth in a year, so all of that work results to this .” Says co-founder Kendal Goebel.
“These are our future leaders, these girls are going to be doing it for the younger generation and we hope that it keeps continuing on inspiring our younger Pasifika girls just to proud of who they are.”
The programme is supported by the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board and the Fresh Gallery. Also complementing the art work are mannequins dressed in Pasifika infused garments by Cook Islands artist Vivian Hosking-Aue and Rachel Soh.
The exhibition runs until November 19.