Hawaiian Graffiti Artist Estria Collaborates with Unitec students at Pasifika

Legendary graffiti artist Estria Miyashiro came to Auckland to help create art at the Hawaiian village at this year’s Pasifika Festival by way of a mural, with the help of Unitec and Kelston Girls College students. The collaboration is similar to that of his latest project Mele Murals, as MATA LAUANO reports



Hawaiian-born and world-renowned graffiti artist Estria Miyashiro (known simply as Estria) was as down to earth as they come during his visit to Unitec- a visit supported by the US embassy along with an earlier visit to Samoa.


Dressed in his bright orange aloha shirt, Estria met the students he would be collaborating with at Auckland’s Pasifika Festival the following day.


He enthralled them as he told the story and displayed the pictures of the work he had been undertaking with his latest project Mele Murals.


The 20-mural project saw him collaborating across the Hawaiian Islands connecting stories, places, people, and ancestors while working with various youth and community groups.



It was the basis behind a documentary of the same name which was screened earlier this month at the Maoriland Film Festival in Otaki.


They call it a youth development, arts education, cultural preservation and community-building project.


Estria is inspiring youth to get in touch with their Hawaiian heritage and expressing it in a way the current generation can understand and work together on - graffiti art.


Keen to explore common Polynesian culture and heritage on this trip to New Zealand and Samoa, Estria hopes the embassy will continue to send him and his team to different islands.



“We hope to build relationships on this trip so we can create more opportunities,” said Estria who wants to forge more partnerships between his organisation, The Estria Foundation (of which he is a co-founder), and other likeminded groups across the Pacific.


As someone who uses his art and meditation to help indigenous Hawaiian youth to reconnect with their culture, Estria says there’s a lot that can be learned from the way cultures in the South Pacific have been retained through generations.


“We have a lot to learn from Maori in terms of how they preserve their culture, their language and their ways.”



Amelia Sadaraka, a Bachelor of Creative Enterprise third-year Unitec student, of Cook Islands descent, said she was excited to see what the collaboration would yield.


This notion was echoed by fellow third year students Tamalii Moli and Taiese Leapai, both of Samoan descent and excited to take part.


For Taiese it was a way of reconnecting for the youth of today, “this is a good way of manifesting our art and getting in touch with our roots”.


Estria says the embassy will be keeping the mural created at Pasifika Festival in New Zealand, perhaps to hang at future events.