Each year we take on tauira for the summer as part of the Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei internship programme. We had a kōrero with Maraea Shaw, a 2021-22 intern who is currently studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Whitecliffe University.

Maraea joined Whai Rawa in November last year while the team was working remotely. Currently in her last month of the internship, Maraea has enjoyed the opportunity to bring her artistic skills to the role, while also learning more about the mahi Whai Rawa does and how it benefits whānau.

Now in the second year of her degree, Maraea says she is grateful to have had the opportunity to take part in the internship with Whai Rawa.

“Through the internship I have not only gained valuable work experience, I have also learned more about the role of Whai Rawa and how they work to support whānau for generations to come. I have also been encouraged to continue to develop my artistic skills, and felt very supported by the team in doing so.

As mana whenua, Maraea says it’s really important for Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei to have more of a presence across Tamaki through art and design.

“During my internship, I have learned how achieving this is a priority of Whai Rawa. The team, particularly Cultural Design Executive Mei, are constantly seeking out opportunities to integrate a strong Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei narrative into buildings and design elements across the whenua. They are also supportive of whānau artists and giving them a platform to share their art, and tell our stories,” says Maraea.

The first of an ongoing series of public art collaborations between Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and Britomart, a selection of portraits by Maraea are currently displayed on Customs Street East.

“I felt proud to be representing the hapū in showcasing some of my work in Britomart.”    


One of the projects Maraea just completed was a design for the house numbers for the new Kainga Kaumātua in Ōrākei allowing her to showcase her creative talent and provide a rangatahi touch to the project.

Asked what her plans for the future are, Maraea says she is focused on getting her degree and taking as many opportunities that come her way.

“I’ve learned a lot from my internship and I now have a better understanding of Whai Rawa. I hope to one day see more of my artwork across Tamaki, and help the hapū tell our stories through cultural design.”