09 August 2023


Passengers stopping for a coffee and bite to eat at the Palmerston North Airport café can now enjoy some new art on the wall thanks to a talented UCOL | Te Pūkenga ākonga (learner).


Art by third-year Bachelor of Creative Media learner Moana Mar’e features in the newly redecorated Café Ignition, which was officially launched last night, 8 August, at a special event.


The artwork was a project from UCOL’s Workhub, which gives UCOL ākonga the opportunity to work on assignments for real clients. 


The project came about during the renovations of Café Ignition last year, when the Airport team thought it would be a great opportunity to incorporate some art into the space, by local UCOL learners.


Second and third-year Bachelor of Creative Media ākonga were asked to create works of art that depicted nature or landmarks found within a 90-minute drive from Palmerston North Airport – the Airport’s target market. 


Moana drew three illustrations — Kāpiti Island, Mount Ruapehu, and a vineyard representing Hawke’s Bay. After choosing Moana’s art, the Airport team asked her to draw a fourth piece that represented the Manawatū. For this, she drew the wind turbines on the Tararua Ranges at sunset.


“I wanted to draw scenes that were iconic for our region and easy to recognise,” says Moana.


“If I had to pick a favourite, I would say the Manawatū piece. I love the colours, and it looks the most dramatic. The windmills were so fun to draw. Everyone in the Manawatū can see them, and they have become a part of the region’s identity.” 


Moana drew the pieces in a minimalist style, inspired by posters she came across while researching. This was a change for her, who normally illustrates highly detailed, realistic-looking art.  


“I loved the challenge of drawing in a minimalist style. I found myself having to hold back from adding more details. I had to rework each piece multiple times and make them more colourful and bold because I’m used to using more realistic colours. It was a great learning experience.”


Moana said it was exciting to have her work on display in such a public space.


“I’m still trying to process it. I have never had an opportunity like this before, where it is just my art on display.”


The Palmerston North Airport team embraced a multifaceted approach to selecting artwork for display. The criteria for artwork selection included excellence in craftmanship, innovation and originality, and relevance and cultural significance.


“We are excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with UCOL and to showcase Moana’s fantastic collection of artwork here in Café Ignition,” said David Lanham, the Chief Executive Officer at Palmerston North Airport.


“Each piece captures an iconic aspect of the unique landscape which exists within our 90-minute drive market, a catchment area which extends from Ruapehu in the north, to Horowhenua in the south, and across to the Wairarapa and southern Hawke’s Bay”.


UCOL Industry Project Facilitator, Leanne Miller, says the project is a great example of collaboration between UCOL and a local organisation, partnering together in a way that benefits both the ākonga and the wider community.


“My ambition when I started at UCOL was to get the best clients, spaces, and opportunities for our learners. Through this partnership with the Airport, we have a platform to display our learners’ work in a very prominent space that people use all of the time, which is very exciting.”


UCOL and the Palmerston North Airport have agreed to display ākonga art in the café for the next three years, giving future learners the opportunity to show off their work.