Man finds healing through toi Māori

By Mare Haimona-Riki

An art exhibition presenting work by people who have been part of the justice system is taking place in Mt Eden. The event aims to convey a message of “renewal” in the spirit of matariki.

For Mason Edwards (Ngā Puhi, Waikato), who has been out of prison for a little over 8 months now, this event allows him to reveal his craft that he has been developing during his time ‘inside’.

He says this new found passion has played, and continues to play, a key role in the overall development of his hauora (well-being).

“I found that through artwork, be it drawings or carvings, [it] sort of relaxed me and kept me focused, so that's why I stayed with it. When I was inside that was my focus…. just carvings and drawings.... so that's why I do it. Because I love it,” says Edwards.

The exhibition is being run by PARS (People At Risk Solutions) which created the event to provide the artists, with a point of focus and give them a platform to showcase their talents in a professional setting. An opportunity they may not have had otherwise.

PARS also provides mentors for the artist. 

For Chris Molloy (Ngātimanawa,Tūhoe), who has been alongside Mason since for the past eight months, the journey through mentorship has been a mutual learning experience. 

"As an artist, being able to come on board and be [able] to mentor these guys and watch them come alive, the connection not only to themselves but to their fellow artist, ...seeing them come alive, that's just been so rewarding," he says.

Today is the last day of the three-day event and for the past twelve weeks has been the main focus for at least 10 artists, who have worked hours on end finalising their pieces ready for display.

Some of the canvas pieces have sold for as much as $500.00 NZD.