Wheelchair waka made for Matariki magic

This wheelchair waka, made by students from Whangaparaoa School, will be a float in the InMotion Matariki parade. Some of the students who helped make the ‘waka’ are pictured, with Charlotte Nightingale, centre, and teacher aide Karen Moore. Charlotte’s son Gabriel, aged nine, is seated in the waka.

The first float for an illuminated, “all wheels” parade, which will be part of this year’s Auckland Matariki festival, has been created in Whangaparaoa.

Students, assisted by teacher aides Karen Moore and Claire Gallagher and artist Jo Houghton, gave a wheelchair a creative, waka-style makeover especially for the parade.

The event, called InMotion Matariki, is being organised by Touch Compass for the second year running. General manager, Charlotte Nightingale of Army Bay, says the parade focuses on fun, providing accessibility and challenging perceptions about disability and art. Last year more than 2000 people took part.

The parade takes place after dark, and illuminated decorations are a big feature. Performances, including many from professional disabled performers, take place all along the route, from Silo Park to the Cloud in Auckland.

Participants can all go at their own pace, many in decorated bikes or wheelchairs.

The Hibiscus Coast is the first local community to be invited to get involved in the lead up to the event, which takes place on July 21.

In particular, Charlotte is hoping that local quilt makers will help create a large tactile quilt, which will be part of a sensory area.

Around 500 flags made of recycled materials are also needed for the parade route and for participants to hold or strap to their bikes or wheelchairs.

If you can help with quilting or making flags, contact Charlotte, email charlotte@touchcompass.org.nz or phone 022 104 7033, before the end of May. Info: www.inmotion.org.nz/