Weaving Hope: The story behind the mural

In 2019 the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation worked on a temporary mural which was placed in the heart of Wellington, Te Ngākau Civic Square.

Making the Mural – the short story behind the making of ‘Weaving Hope’.

Weaving Hope tells the story of loss and hope. This work acknowledges the grief over the tragedy that happened in Christchurch on 15 March 2019, and presents a vision and hope for a more unified, accepting and diverse Aotearoa. The mural has been weaved together by local mural artist Ruth Robertson-Taylor, but the vision and key elements come directly from the Muslim community.

This work was co-created with the Muslim Students Association (VicMuslim), the International Muslim Association of New Zealand’s Committee, members of the Kilbirnie mosque community, and Vodafone New Zealand’s Muslim Society (Salam Network).

Vodafone, and the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation supported the creation of this mural, with site support from Wellington City Council.

“At Vodafone we’re committed to fostering a deeply embedded culture of inclusion. One that values the full diversity of our people, our customers and the communities we serve. This mural reflects our desire as an organisation to take positive action from a devastating event, and demonstrate the kindness and generosity that sits at the core of Aotearoa. Out of tragedy must come unity.”

Antony Welton, Chair of the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation

About the Design

The name ‘Weaving Hope’, chosen by Iffah from VicMuslim, speaks to the vision of the artwork, and the wide range of artists and community members who helped weave together the final design.

Arches play a key role in the work, a nod to Islamic architecture, rainbows, and bridges. A strong shape, these arches are evocative of mosques, of bridging understanding, and of crossing boundaries.

The geometric features and Kufic script used in the design pay homage to traditional and modern Islamic art. They represent the love of science, geometry and the mystery of life in this culture, and feel familiar and welcoming to those of the faith.

In places the strong geometry fractures into pieces and shapes. This is symbolic of both disintegration and creation. The design is simultaneously destroyed and built from small elements, showing the dual nature and strong connection between these two forces.

Flowers feature strongly in the design. In the panel to the far right of the artwork each flower was hand carved by local Syrian furniture maker Mahmoud Shagouri, with the 51 martyrs from the tragedy in mind. The flowers come from various countries around the world, a reminder that Islam is a diverse global faith, and a faith practised in New Zealand.

There is a quote on the artwork, a feature all parties involved in the design wanted in the final work. It reads: “Be kind, for whenever kindness becomes part of something, it beautifies it.” Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

About the Artists

Ruth Robertson-Taylor was the lead artist behind the work, but key elements have been contributed by local, national, and international contributors.

Mural Artist Ruth Robertson-Taylor discusses the mural design with members of Kilbirnie Mosque.

Ruth Robertson-Taylor (Gorse) has been actively painting public murals for nearly 10 years in the greater Wellington region. Working collaboratively with councils and communities, she shapes narratives that encapsulate the spirit of each art piece’s location. Her mural aesthetics can differ greatly from one to the next, but like all good public murals, each piece responds to the space and community they sit within. Ruth often works with different artists to co-create large collaborative artworks. Graphic designers Muhammad Waqas and Farhan Sarfraz worked with Ruth on the overall design scheme for this work.

Additionally, the Kufic script (Arabic text displayed in three boxes throughout the mural) was contributed by Muhammad Waqas, a local creative who belongs to the Kilbirnie mosque community. The Kufic script displays the words ‘peace’, ‘love’ and ‘unity’. Read more about Muhammad here.

The traditional geometric design that is repeated throughout the work was contributed by Farhan Sarfraz. Farhan is a graphic designer, a Programme Manager at Vodafone New Zealand, and part of the Salam Network.

The flower carvings portrayed on the far-right panel were created by the artist and Mahmoud Shagouri. Mahmoud is a resettled Syrian based in Porirua. In Syria he was an expert furniture maker. Ruth and Mahmoud worked on the carvings together bridging the language gap with google translate!

Surprise find elements (hidden phrases) were contributed by Asyraf ElGhazali, a visiting student from Malaysia, who we met through the consultation at the Kilbirnie mosque.

Members of the Victoria University Muslim Club during the mural workshop

A lot of amazing people contributed to the final design, and these were a few reflections and hopes for the mural from the co-creation workshops we ran.

“I hope that this mural can show others the real message of Islam, which is peace.”

“We are many races, we are diversified, but we are still one.”

“This mural is a great way to bring us back to all of those positive emotions that we had, to the goals we might have set, those resolutions we put forward… and to bring us back to each other.”

A huge thank you to everyone involved in the project. We hope the mural makes viewers think, and can play a small role in building a more unified and hopeful future for all of Aotearoa.

Mahmoud helping to carve flowers

Change Accelerator 2018

Where are they now?

In 2018 we invited three amazing teams to join us for the second Vodafone Foundation Change Accelerator in Christchurch.  It’s now 5 months on from the programme, and we thought we’d check in with them to hear what they’re up to now, and how the projects are going.  All three projects are innovative, tech-based and work to improve the lives of Aotearoa’s young people . We hope the stories of these amazing wahine led projects can inspire you if you’re thinking of applying in 2019.

2018 Change Accelerator Participants2018 Change Accelerator Participants

Anamata Cafe

Digitising the golden standard in youth health assessment (HEADSSS)

The Idea
This team went into the Change Accelerator with an idea to digitalise a well-known and widely used youth health assessment. They entered the programme with a frustration around the paper-based nature of the assessment, and with the goal to enhance responsiveness for the young people and school nurses using the assessment.

Their Experience

“We learnt so much at the Change Accelerator programme. In particular, our increased knowledge regarding the technology space & the NFP sector. We have further developed our thinking in regards to our digital assessment and the key features we are wanting to see.”

A highlight for the Anamata Café team was learning how to pitch:

“…and also the sprint sessions with our team of developers, seeing how the project evolved the skill sets of the different tech people, and how this all worked together to develop our prototype”

Reflecting on the programme now, Annabel thinks the pre-work and engaging with some tech people first to develop their understanding would’ve helped. She also reflects that the time factor was a challenge for a small organisation, and that juggling the day-to-day mahi alongside the programme was challenging.

What Happened Next?
The team were recently successful in applying to our Innovation Fund. Their next steps are to keep building the app, work on their business model and to pilot the project.

“We are excited to be developing this further as a web application, the schools we work with are crying out for this to be digital and we will have a full version developed, which has been co-designed with young people available for testing in September/October 2019.”

Annabel Prescott & Niki Wright – Anamata Cafe

Mid North Family Support

An app to support health professionals in teaching safety strategies to young people who have witnessed family violence.

The Idea
To create a Family Harm App for Rangatahi to learn strategies to keep safe during times of family violence/family harm.

“Our vision is to develop a domestic violence application (app) that will be utilised by organisations as an educational resource with rangatahi (youth) throughout Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Registered professionals within organisations will use observation and referral processes to identify vulnerable rangatahi who may be at-risk of exposure to violence within their homes.

These professionals will then utilise our app to engage rangatahi and assist them in developing their own keep safe strategies. Through the provision of relevant information and the identification of available support networks, we believe our rangatahi will be empowered to seek assistance during times of domestic violence within their homes.”

The Experience

“The Vodafone NZ Foundation’s Change Accelerator programme was a fantastic opportunity to develop a prototype for a Family Harm ‘Keeping Safe’ App for Rangatahi – named ‘Kia Wehikore’. Without the expertise, structure, and specialist knowledge provided during the Change Accelerator programme we would not have been able to develop a relevant, culturally responsive, rangatahi-centric app to combat family harm in our communities.”

“Mid North Family Support gained a vast array of learning opportunities from the Change Accelerator programme, which included

Prototyping a Family Harm app for Rangatahi – how cool is that!

Public speaking, Video & Slideshow presentation skills, Advertising/Marketing and Media training

Business & Operational Planning, Programme Canvasing & Governance knowledge

AI & Technology knowledge (including legalities, data recording, privacy, storage, clouds, viruses, hacks, copy writes and other significant and relevant complexities involved with app production)

Wonderful networking opportunities that created collaborative approaches and on-going partnerships.

Dedicated time away to apply our focus – allowing for a truly uninterrupted commitment to our kaupapa and mahi.

Experience in working alongside awesome people, who dream big, share talent and get lots done!”

Her advice for those thinking of applying is:

“Allow yourself to be available and present for the entire programme as all the days are full, so to also do your job back at the agency is indeed a big juggling act.”

What Happened Next?
Their Family Harm App (Kia Wehikore) has now been taonga (gifted) to Le Va (Ministry of Health) as part of their suite of Family Harm interventions – to be further developed, extended and launched into a nationwide programme.

“We are humbled by this ‘best possible outcome’, as it is now in the hands of a bigger well-funded organisation who will extend its reach and make it fly!”

Davina Smolders – Mid North Family Support

Te Tihi o Ruahine Whānau Ora Alliance

Collective dreaming and goal setting for rangatahi and whānau

The Idea
Te Tihi o Ruahine Whānau Ora Alliance came into the Change Accelerator with a prototype they’d already begun work on. They saw the Change Accelerator as an opportunity to further develop an Minimal Viable Product (MVP):

“Te Mauri Moemoea – a maori-centred webapp utilising gamification; supporting rangatahi, their whanau and community to create their own closed network which supports them to set dreams and tasks and journey through the realisation of these in their virtual and most importantly real life.”

The Experience

“We learnt so much at the accelerator, from IP, business 101, tech 101, artificial intelligence, design thinking, pitching to soft skills – the greatest resource we come away with though was the relationships that we were able to form and strengthen. Both with the Vodafone foundation and our sector mentor Dan Milward of Gamefroot, both of who we continue to work with around Te Mauri Moemoea.”

One highlight for them was the Tech 101 session delivered by DevAcademy.

“For community organisations moving into the tech sector, tech 101 really provided the opportunity to build our knowledge in this area as well as being realistic in our expectations of our junior developers.”

Their advice for potential applicants is:

“If you are new to the tech industry, then manage your expectations around what MVP is, be kind to your developers as they will be working very hard to get across the line for you, soak up the tech knowledge of the senior developer as this becomes extremely valuable moving forward outside of the change accelerator.”

What Happened Next?

“Since the change accelerator we have gone onto complete a more comprehensive MVP of Te Mauri Moemoea and will soon engage in user testing for the MVP. Further whanau engagement to understand the needs of rangatahi, their whanau and community will inform the on-going development of the wider Te Mauri Moemoea product.”

Te Tihi o Ruahine Whānau Ora Alliance were also successful in the latest round of our Innovation Fund. We’re excited to work with them on the pilot phase of the project.

Te Tihi Team
(L to R):Hemi Porter, Nikki Walden, Materoa Mar, Pikihuia Hillman & Stacey Seruvatu – Te Tihi