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Art Angels: The Second Wave

Aotearoa's communities need arts more than ever - we continue our series highlighting creatives who are giving back during tough times.


When Aotearoa needs it most - the arts are there.

There have been countless tales told of New Zealanders going above and beyond to make a difference for their communities as spirits sag during the COVID-19 pandemic. These actions may not have attracted headlines but no matter how big or small the deed, each has proved an inspiration, a distraction, a reason to smile in dark times that made an impact on those around them.

As many are feeling once again coping with the reality that the second wave of the pandemic, The Big Idea wants to pay tribute to those in the creative community who are playing their part in keeping the nation emotionally engaged.

We had a great response to our first instalment in this series, highlighting the actions of our giving artists - and want to hear about more of them from you.

Here are just some of the Art Angels of Aotearoa.



A creative space for people using mental health and addiction services, Artsentia has been helping out the people of Dunedin and Otago for over 30 years.

So it should come as no surprise that when their doors were forced shut during the original lockdown, their dedicated team took to Facebook to keep connected with their community of artists. 

Every staff member took a day of the week and posted videos and creative projects that people could do at home on their Facebook page. Each day tended to have a different art form focus due to the different skills of the respective art workers – ceramics, creative writing, painting, music. 

This proved to be an effective way to support people in the mental health community who tend to be isolated at the best of times. In addition, the Artsentia crew made phone calls and delivered art materials to those who wanted them. In testing times, the staff and their artists who rely on their support stepped up and made the best of the situation. 

Anyone wanting to utilise these resources can do so at the Creativity at Home section of their website.

Black Creatives Aotearoa - Diane Wesh & Dione Joseph

Providing a voice and increased visibility for their community, Black Creatives Aotearoa was quick to respond to the original COVID-19 lockdown in New Zealand.  Founder Dione Joseph put out a call to feature Black creatives and had an overwhelming response.

Diane Wesh, under the mentorship of Joseph, put together not one, but two detailed and dedicated pieces, featuring 20 different creatives, their incredible work and how they too were going above and beyond during COVID. 


Malcolm Akehurst

We all remember the teddy bear phenomenon during the first lockdown - adding a little colour to a bleak time for many New Zealanders on their daily walks.

Malcolm Akehurst cranked that up several notches in his attempts to entertain the people of Whakatāne.

Akehurst put his career craftsman skills to good use, creating a giant 2 metre high replica of Pinocchio during lockdown. He put it on display in his Douglas Street window.  But not content to have it just sitting in a window, the Akehurst family regularly updated Pinocchio’s outfits and scenarios - even making them come to life, as displayed in this charming video.


Creative Matters - Mandy Jakich

With more than 25 years working as an arts educator, Mandy Jakich is a worthy arts angel even before COVID hit.  Her business Creative Matters delivers art programmes to people of all ages, particularly children.

Doing lockdown she started up free Youtube tutorials, as her students were not able to attend workshops which kept many children busy and happy. She also organised funding for (and contributed to) a couple of great community murals in Muriwai Beach, playing a pivotal role in bringing people together.


Do you know of any #TBIArtAngels who deserve a spotlight? Contact us at or DM us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.



Written by

The Big Idea Editor

17 Aug 2020

The Big Idea Editor