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26 Jan 2024

Kirikiriroa's Creative Pulse Thrives with HCC CCS Support

An attendee at the 2023 Zinefest, looking through a stall showcasing an artist's

Written by Megan Lyon

Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa
Let us keep close together, not wide apart

Artists and their communities are intertwined together; drawing inspiration, celebrating diversity and culture, meeting needs, reflecting their values and telling powerful stories from within to be widely shared.  

One important way this happens is through the national Creative Communities Scheme [CCS] whose kaupapa is to create opportunities for local communities to engage with and participate in local arts activities. This in turn leads to deep engagement in the arts for multiple creatives and audiences reflecting our unique communities. 

Across the Waikato there are two CCS funding rounds bi-annually to support a staggering array of projects. These projects must engage across a range of criteria to meet at least one of these outcomes;

  • Diversity – support the diverse artistic cultural traditions of local communities,
  • Young people – enable young people (under 18 years) to engage with, and participate in the arts,
  • Participation – create opportunities for local communities to engage with, and participate in local arts activities. 

Once successfully funded all projects must be completed within a twelve-month period and applications usually range between $2000 to $5000.

In Kirikiriroa, Hamilton CCS funding is administered by Creative Waikato with an independent allocation committee of professional creatives. 

Hamilton City Councillor Louise Hutt joined the allocation committee in 2023. She holds a master’s degree in media and creative technologies and as a long-time sewist and crafter, has a real interest in a wide range of arts mediums, both professionally and personally. 

Louise comments that it has been interesting to see the variety of projects submitted this past year and the spread of criteria that people choose to apply under.  “We do have some diversity of applications – including toi Māori, tangata moana, and other Indigenous and migrant arts practices too, but it could always be more diverse, and I would love to see more communities who use English as a second language being successful for funding. There’s also an opportunity in the diversity criteria to allow intergenerational learning and support the resurgence of cultural practices which have suffered under colonisation and imperialism which is a beautiful thing to be able to support.”

“Participation is often a catch-all criteria, but we also know we have a saturation of US television and films for New Zealand audiences, and I certainly appreciate seeing the emphasis on local communities engaging with local practices. I’ve been stoked to fund projects which focused on Kirikiriroa stories being told (in any medium) which really might otherwise have not been preserved or shared as widely. As well as furthering opportunities for local people (whether they view themselves as artists, creatives, or makers – or not) to give things a go.”


A shot of two young women performing in the production of Closer, in Hamilton, New Zealand

A Creative Communities Scheme funded production of ‘Closer’, performed in Kirikiriroa Hamilton. Image supplied.

Louise cherishes her own personal collection of Zinefest T-shirts and enjoys seeing this organisation grow and develop over time.

Zinefest, established in 2014 and a regular recipient of CCS funding, is an annual festival based in Hamilton that celebrates self-publishing. It showcases Zines, which are short-run and self-published print media publications that have a diverse range of creative expressions, including comics, poetry, collage, fan-art and photo essays. This event offers a platform for independent creators to share their work and connect with the community.

Louise says,“How they foster participation in a real punk, DIY art forms, and how more and more people make, know about, and enjoy zines is incredible. The 2023 one inside the ground floor of the Hamilton Central Library was a sight to behold! Just because it’s a DIY art form doesn’t mean that people should have to do it for free or that there aren’t costs associated with it and I hope our funding makes it sustainable for years to come.”

Although Wairehu Grant, an artist, musician and postgraduate researcher had enjoyed art growing up in Te Awamutu, due to a lack of opportunities this tended to be home based. He moved to Hamilton shortly after the first Zinefest began and was struck by zines as an accessible creative medium. “I mean you can go to a Zinefest with $5 and walk out with a few cool things and there’s very little you can do in life these days with that sort of experience.  So, I was really struck by that and by the crossovers with punk music and the history of zines and I got wrapped up in it.  I eventually became friends with more and more people in the wider scene, started staying later to help pack down after fests and then before you know it, you’re on the committee!”

Zinefest has taken place in a few venues since its Kirikiriroa inception, as has its afterparty where prizes are given out and audiences are exposed to new bands. In 2023 the move to the Hamilton Central Library brought many positives; opening hours, size, accessibility, an ability to attract a new audience of library goers who may visit without knowing about the zine medium before, quiet, easy to find, breathing room with no need to rush, space to engage with stallholders and equally quiet spaces within the library to engage with each other and the zines or to take outside into Garden Place. 

This cumulatively fosters a sense of community and both creators and audiences are growing.  Zinefest is an opportunity for rangatahi youth to experience and engage with an alternative counterculture centred around collaboration and creativity. Wairehu also acknowledges that having their non-for-profit organisation regularly funded since 2019 has provided them a backbone.  It has meant they could spread out roles, take away costs for creatives and have greater levels of certainty, including for designers and bands. Importantly “everybody knows how much they are being paid.”


Dr. Jeremy Mayall and Hamilton local council member, Louise Hutt, at the Wharenui Harikoa Exhibition Official Opening event held at Waikato Museum in November 2023.

Dr. Jeremy Mayall and Hamilton local council member, Louise Hutt, at the Wharenui Harikoa Exhibition Official Opening event held at Waikato Museum in November 2023. Photo by Mike Walen / KeyImagery Photography. Copyright: © Waikato Museum.

As with Zinefest the Hamilton Central Library has also acted as a central hub for the recently created Fair Enough Artist Market.  Conceptual visual artist Julia Iti Prendergast (Ngāti Maniapoto) created this curated market to appeal to young people and found the library to be a great space, both for where they are at as an organisation, as well as working to enliven the central city.  

Julia had moved from Melbourne to Taupō then Kirikiriroa, Hamilton in quick succession and quickly “realised that there wasn’t a space for young artists, especially Maaori contemporary artists to sell their stuff.” She wanted to do something that was cohesive so in 2022 began with stalls at the Farmer’s Market as a pre-established space where she could take a risk.  Moving into the central library has been synergistic and Julia says that the space is great, and they are very thankful for it. 

Julia can feel the change for Kirikiriroa, Hamilton by “putting more energy into creating something new and different”.  This includes celebrating the work of local Waikato artists also via a collective table, featuring work by young Maaori artists from around the motu who don’t need to be physically present. In 2020, Julia received a grant from the City of Melbourne to hold her first solo art exhibition and felt the benefits of arts grants for the first time. Here in Kirikiriroa, Hamilton she reflects that the CCS fosters creativity, and while things are doable without funding, it builds confidence and serves as a validation of respect for the mahi being done by the organisation. 

Importantly it means people involved are better resourced which helps to grow and develop arts projects, such as the Fair Enough Artist Market. This funding means that the market can support a regular community event such as this by paying bands and poets and giving logistical and marketing support to stallholders.  “It’s such a great way to do this thing and the model really works.”

Esther Gathambo is the events coordinator and facilitator of The Re-Creators who provide a platform to learn more about waste and climate change. 

The Re-Creators, who operate in other centres, believe this funding connects them to a wider and more creative community.   Esther points to their previous funding model had meant that “so many people wanted to join who didn’t actually fit the criteria.” They run workshops and school holiday programmes, which have tangible creative outcomes for participants and are always “quite a hit actually.”  These include sewing, making sculptures like robots and creatures, and paper making.  Always uppermost is making good use of recycled materials such as plastic bottle rings, paper and wood off-cuts. “What I like is it brings people in to learn a practical skill and at the same time they learn more about waste.” 

In 2023 CCS funding enabled The Re-Creators to run several community upcycling workshops which took place in Shama Ethnic Women’s Trust, Go Eco and at the Settlement Centre Waikato. Of the 125 participants, the majority were migrant and refugee communities who were able to be reached through these synergistic organisations and venues. 

This year they plan to expand funding applications, including creative communities, to enable the organisation to have more staff carrying out this work. They’re particularly interested in working with other local groups, such as Shama Women’s Network, helping with the aims of these organisations and growing new and diverse audiences. 

From small grassroots level to large multi-day arts projects or events, with multiple stakeholders there is a discernible difference that CCS funding makes within our community.  Having access to funding means projects, across a range of creative mediums, can be shared and celebrated. Louise points out having Creative Waikato facilitate CCS on behalf of Hamilton City Council is a real asset.  “They’re eager and waiting to help people apply and can provide broad, wrap around support before, during, and after the application. We’re so fortunate to have this support for our arts sector locally and our capacity and capability is better for it.”

She concludes:

“I know projects have gone ahead that might not have otherwise, or that the arts practitioners might have gone without or had less money to pay their rent and live in our city if we hadn’t funded them. We owe our arts sector more than that. They also provide our communities opportunities for play, joy, critical thinking, skill development, cultural understanding, empathy, and connection – we are all better off for this.”


Are you ready to take the plunge and submit your application? We’re here to help. All the crucial details, FAQs addressing your burning questions, and everything you need to craft a winning application can be found at www.creativewaikato.co.nz/creative-resources/funding.