2017 Conference Programme

Welcome to The Creative West, the third edition of the West Auckland Heritage Conference.

The Waitākere Ranges were an inspiration for many artists, from famous painters and architects, from characters like Peter Saurbier to groups like the Titirangi Folk Music Club. At the conference, with more talks on offer than ever before, you’ll have the opportunity to discover the stories of many of these artists, musicians, architects and performers.

While this conference still celebrates the unique heritage of the West, this year we’ve included more of a focus on contemporary artists, and how they were influenced by the great West Auckland artists of last century. Several talks feature heritage projects or groups that started last century, but are still going strong, so in a way, we could say heritage is being made as we speak.

This event is organised by the Waitākere Ranges Local Board with support from the Whau Local Board. The conference is a collaborative effort by many in the community and council.

Sandra Coney, Heritage portfolio, Waitākere Ranges Local Board

Register now for your FREE ticket for the Heritage Conference.

Atkinson House by Tibor Donner, 1947
Image: Atkinson House by Tibor Donner, 1947

Sunday 7 October 2018

West Auckland Heritage Conference: The Creative West

Schedule (subject to change)

8:30am – Registration opens

9:00 am – Mihi and karakia followed by opening address by Sandra Coney

9:15am – Key note presentation by Linda Tyler: Looking westward: visual artists and craftspeople of West Auckland 

10am – George Taua and the gift of the matariki kapa haka – demo

10:30am – Morning tea

12.30 – Lunch

1:15 pm – Key note presentation by Bill McKay – Far Pavillions: The Modern Architecture of West Auckland.

4 pm – Key note presentation by Helen Schamroth: Bravado and a love of crafting

4:40 pm Riki Bennett, Kingsley Melhuish and Pita Turei: The sounds of our stories

5:30 pm – Blessing and closing with wine and nibbles

Session details

Click each session to read more about the presentation.

keynote speakers

9:15 am

Linda Tyler - Looking westward: visual artists and craftspeople of West Auckland

For artists, the west has always been a notion to conjure with. It means spectacular sunsets and cascading waterfalls glimpsed when negotiating an abrupt and challenging landscape. It is forever untamed, its winds and surf as wild now as when first timidly encountered by the nineteenth century’s earliest photographers and painters. Home to generations of craftspeople who work its clays or pull inspiration from its elemental qualities for their jewellery, glass or carving, it has also whispered rhythms to printmakers and sculptors who have found it a haven for uninterrupted making. This talk will be packed with images and give an overview of artists and craftspeople who have been inspired by West Auckland.

1:15 pm

Bill McKay - Far Pavillions: The Modern Architecture of West Auckland.

West Auckland in the post-war period, Titirangi in particular, was quite a hot bed of modernist artistic activity with a large number of artists, writers and academics living in the area.  Many of these people commissioned architects to design them houses in the same modern vein. This talk looks a number of those houses, several of them large flat roofed pavilions in the International Style – most are still with us today and of national significance in the development of Zealand architecture and new ways of living.


Helen Schamroth - Bravado and a love of crafting

What makes a place creative? Who are some of the people who have given west Auckland its creative identity? Helen Schamroth draws on over 30 years of writing about, and engaging with craft, art and design, a significant amount originating in west Auckland. There were riches to discover beyond the suburbs of the west, by the beaches and tucked away in the bush. She shares some of the research that revealed the lifestyle, the bravado and the love of crafting which characterised the makers of some of New Zealand’s finest and most imaginative works of craft and design.


11:00 – 11:25am

11:30 – 11:55am

12:00 – 12:25am

Documenting our Heritage

Titirangi Community House

Raewynn Robertson - Four photographers

Heritage Librarian Raewynn Robertson will talk briefly about the J.T. Diamond Collection held at the West Auckland Research Centre and will highlight four photographers in that collection: Louis Marusich, Isobel Hooker, Charlie Spearpoint and Percy Trenwith.

Location: Titirangi Community House

A panel of experts - How to share your story

There are many ways to publish your research. Author Sandra Coney publishes her own books, renowned journalist Jenny Wheeler who is discovering everything about indie publishing with four novels on the go, and Sally Greer from Beatnik publishing, who specializes in collaborative books by artists and designers. The panel will answer questions and share learnings from their experiences.

Location: Titirangi Community House

Janet Clews - The Glen Eden Playhouse Theatre

Janet Clews has been part of the history of what we now know as the “Glen Eden Playhouse Theatre” for a long time. She will share some of the story of how and why it came to be and mention some of the occupants over past decades.

Location: Titirangi Community House

Stories of the Land

Anna Fomison - Voices from the Stream

Anna Fomison produced and directed the 60-minute documentary on Project Twin Streams (PTS) with videography by Davian Lorson. They will show highlights of this documentary which has just been launched to mark the 15- year anniversary of PTS, a large scale environmental restoration initiative that restored 56k of West Auckland stream banks over ten years with an integrated community development approach.

Melanie Wittwer and the Green Bay Writers

Melanie Wittwer and two representatives from other local writing groups will share with you who they are, how you can join and what it brought them as writers.

Michelle Edge - Through the artist’s eyes…and ears

Immerse artists in the wilderness for eight weeks and they will create. These creations have impact…they inspire, educate and influence others. This is the premise of the Auckland Regional Parks Artist in Residence programme. Michelle Edge the manager of this residency will show the work of four artists who embedded themselves in the Waitakere Ranges and became ‘creative westies’ and environmental interpreters.

Location: Titirangi Community House

Colours of the West

Mandy Patmore - Kakano Youth Arts Collective

Mandy Patmore is the Creative Director of Kakano Youth Arts Collective: a unique visual arts project based at Corban Estate Arts Centre, which developed as an attempt to recognise the needs of some of the most vulnerable young people in West Auckland who have been excluded from mainstream education, and many a long history of offending. Under the guidance of experienced artists, these young people are given the opportunity to develop their art practice, their confidence and their self-worth. This important work is having a transformative effect in the streets of West Auckland.

Judy Millar - Head for the Hills

During August of this year Judy Millar presented a solo exhibition of small works on paper from 1989 and 2017 at Gow Langsford Gallery in Auckland. The works from 1989 showed Millar’s immediate response to the wild landscape of Auckland’s West Coast when she first moved there soon after leaving art school. The recent works track her newfound reflection on the importance of place; place not only considered as a location but more importantly as a set of determining circumstances. Taking cues from European Romanticism Millar will question her own desire to head for the hills and live for more than 30 years on a windswept cliff.

Hamish Coney - Don Binney's West Coast

Hamish Coney explores Don Binney’s connection to Auckland’s West Coast and his ongoing legacy. Binney 1940-2012 lived at different times at Piha and Te Henga and is noted for his West Coast landscapes and paintings of native birds. Hamish Coney is the managing director of Art + Object and had a close relationship with the artist in his final years.

Location: Titirangi Community House

Art is Where You Find It

Fiona Drummond - Beethoven in the Family Car: the fantasy world of Peter Sauerbier

A recycling ethic and a varied career from steel construction at Marsden Point, repairing jewellery and making metalwork ornaments and fittings for fancy restaurants, bars and hotels honed the skills and creativity that saw the sculptor Peter Sauerbier emerge.  He began to create in his Massey workshop fanciful creations from his treasure hunts in secondhand markets, building sites and scrap metal yards.   A collection of 100 of his works valued at over a million dollars were gifted by him in 2006  to Waitakere City.  Share Fiona Drummond’s exploration into the life and work of this fascinating man.

Gai Bishop - Who was Ivan Cuba?

Painter? Writer/historian? Political commentator? Strongly independent thinker and philosopher? Typical Westie? This presentation is a warm and respectful discussion about how an engaging, eclectic and somewhat eccentric artist strode across the broad spectrum of conventional labels with total disregard for them and ticked off his own ‘boxes’…and took a bit of a tilt at other peoples. Some of Ivan’s work donated to the West Auckland Historical Society and the West Auckland Research Centre will be displayed to be enjoyed along with the talk.

Caroline Robinson - The Creative mind: back to the source of regeneration

Caroline Robinson founded Cabal in 1990 as a vehicle to explore the changing role of human creativity and business. Nearly 30 years on, Cabal, based in Titirangi, is now co-leading the advancement of regenerative practices of Aotearoa, partnering locally as well as internationally to develop the emerging field of Regenerative Development. Cabal’s creative practice began in textile and wearable arts. Over time the work evolved from the individual human scale, to community and city scale. Cabal has been awarded numerous public art commissions which have been taken up as opportunities to co-create spaces of connection and belonging.

Location: Titirangi Community House


2:15 – 2:40 pm

2:45 – 3:10 pm

3:15 – 3:40 pm

West On Stage

Tricia Lee - Titirangi Folk Music Club: over 50 year of music in West Auckland

Titirangi Folk Music club has been contributing to the West Auckland music scene for over 50 years.  Current secretary and long time committee member, Tricia Lee, will attempt to answer the oft times controversial question, “what is folk music?”  She will talk about the founding of the club, its history and some of the many highlights over the years.

John Parker - Once upon a time in the West

I have had long association with the West, since I bought some land in Waiatarua in 1969. In my presentation, I will discuss what it means to have lived and worked here, since 1980, in the house I had built. In 1983 I began working as a stage designer at Theatre Corporate. Since then my life has been project based, juggling between working in clay and theatre design. I began as a potter in 1966 and in 2016 celebrated 50 years of working in clay with a major retrospective CAUSE AND EFFECT at Te Uru Contemporary Art Gallery in Titirangi.

Pauline Vella - History of the Glen Eden Players

Background and highlights of the Glen Eden Theatre theatre company, the Playhouse Theatre Incorporated, at the Glen Eden Theatre building. Since 1972 the Playhouse Theatre has staged hundreds of plays and events in this building, as well as coordinated the rebuild, the venue hire of the theatre and many other commercial opportunities to keep the building as well as the group alive and current in the 21st century.

Location: Titirangi Community House

Reimagining History

Sandra Coney - Cameron Johnson: First artist of the West Coast of Auckland Council

The return of a painting to the Gibbon’s old homestead at Whatipu, set the presenter on a journey of discovery to find out who the artist was, revealing his dedication to painting the West Coast, and his colourful, bohemian lifestyle.

Andrew Clifford - A New Vision in the West

Titirangi and the surrounding Waitakere Ranges have long been an important hub and source of inspiration for artists. Even abstract painters have made a home here and found inspiration from their surroundings and from each other. In advance of the forthcoming exhibition and book Parallel Universe, which surveys the career of painter-designer Roy Good, Te Uru Director Andrew Clifford positions Good amongst a group of pioneering mid-century artists and gallerists who helped lead the development of abstraction in Aotearoa-New Zealand from the forests of the West Coast.

Stephen Ellis - Headforemost

On 26 November 1841 the small boat containing William Cornwallis Symonds and four other passengers sank “headforemost” in the Manukau Harbour. Symonds was the impetuous deputy to Governor William Hobson. His Manukau Land Company was a private scheme instigated by Symonds, to entice Scottish emigrants to his proposed capital city on land that he had not yet negotiated the purchase of at Cornwallis. Artist Stephen Ellis has just finished his exhibition “Headforemost” at Te Uru, in which he reimagines the settling of Symonds’ unbuilt city at Cornwallis.

Location: Titirangi Community House

Material Heritage

Garth Falconer - Harry Turbott: the journey of a West Coast Environmental Designer.

Architect Harry Turbott (1930-2016) returned from studying Landscape architecture at Harvard in 1960. He taught and worked as a consultant and chose to base his family at Karekare, from where he tirelessly defended the Waitakere and West Coast from inappropriate development.  Perhaps his greatest design was for the Arataki visitors centre where he sought to channel the energies and stories of Te Kawerau a Maki and the Waitakere Ranges for the people of Auckland.

Tanya Wilkinson - Living in a Tibor Donner house

Tanya Wilkinson lives in the Atkinson House, built in 1946-7 in Titirangi, designed by Tibor Donner. From the late 1960s to the early 2000s the house was owned by the Waitakere City Council and from the late ‘70s operated as the Titirangi Community House. In this talk she will give a brief introduction to Tibor Donner and the history of the Atkinson House; and talk about what it is like to like to live in a house designed by Tibor Donner, and one that has had a former life as a community house.



Location: Titirangi Community House

Art is Everywhere

Naomi McCleary - the heART of this place

For a brief but golden period from 1995 to 2010, Waitakere led New Zealand in placing artists at the heart of the building of a city. Buildings and bridges, parks and playgrounds all design teams included artists and iwi. Architects were interviewed and assessed on their willingness to embrace arts/design collaboration. The result is a legacy of unique creative intervention – both functional and decorative. As arts manager for Waitakere during those years, we will take a walk through the best of the west.

Viviene Stone - Colin McCahon House in the 21st Century

How does a single artist house museum of the 20th century stay relevant to 21st century audiences?
In 2019 the McCahon House will celebrate Colin McCahon’s 100th birthday with an upgrade the visitor experience at the house museum where Colin McCahon and his family lived in the 1950’s, and where he produced some of the nation’s greatest art treasures.  Director Vivienne Stone will share how other single artist museum houses of the late nineteenth and twentieth century engage with their audiences.

Location: Titirangi Community House

Martin Sutcliff - The Burgeoning of Corban Estate Arts Centre

Naomi McCleary (Board Trustee) and Martin Sutcliffe (Director) talk about how the Corban Estate Arts Centre has developed from its earliest days in 2002 to the present time.  They will discuss the reasons for it being established, how it has aimed to make itself relevant to its surrounding communities, what its contributing to the West and where it is heading in the future.