Visiting sites or locations is an important experience for our Art students, particularly at the start of the year when such visits can be used to stimulate awareness of subject matter or to inspire the students’ imagination. The College’s geographical location at the innermost reaches of the Manukau make the Harbour and its hinterland an ideal subject, as it offers so many opportunities for source material and interpretation. We use Te Manukau as the major theme for our NCEA Level 2 Painting course for our Year 12 students.
As a preliminary to the course, the students take a day-long field trip to Whatipū at the Manukau’s mouth on the West Coast, photographing and sketching landforms, the seascape, and investigating the history of the harbour and the Waitakere Ranges. There is a rich Māori history associated with Whatipū, and vestiges on Paratūtai Island of its pivotal role in the transportation of kauri logs felled in the Waitakeres following colonisation.
There is a poignant connection with King’s College at the Spragg Memorial on a promontory just past Cornwallis: the monument commemorates Old Collegian William Neal Spragg, who died in action on 1 January, 1918, and is buried in Old Cairo Cemetery, Egypt. His father erected the monument and gifted 769 acres of land to the city of Auckland, and his son is also remembered in the Roll of Honour plaque in our Chapel. Whatipū was also the site of New Zealand’s worst maritime disaster, when HMS Orpheus ran aground on the Middle Bar in 1863 with the loss of 189 men.
To help our students gain a deeper understanding of these themes, we commissioned two multi-touch books from Old Collegian Emily Parr ( Taylor, 2009-10) who designed, wrote and photographed for the books, which are downloaded to the students’ iPads and used as a resource throughout the year.
Head of Department Art History, e‑Learning; Teacher of Art
To learn more about Emily's artistic journey and award-winning art, click here for our interview with her in our Summer edition of the King's Courier.