Ko au te wai, ko te wai ko au: I am the water and the water is me


For people living in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, the sea is integral to our identity.

Ko au te wai, ko te wai ko au: I am the water and the water is me, opening at the New Zealand Maritime Museum on June 24, explores creative endeavours that have strong associations with the sea.

The community based project, facilitated by The Roots Creative Entrepreneurs Collective, shares information about water pollution and the origin of rubbish patches in our oceans.

The great pacific garbage patch is an enormous collection of marine debris – mostly plastics in the North Pacific Ocean. The rubbish patch is bounded by the massive North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Also known as the Pacific trash vortex, it spans waters from the west coast of North America to Japan.

Working with a number of youth from the Waitematā district, The Roots aim to raise awareness about the problem of the huge rubbish patches in the Pacific Ocean.

After collecting rubbish from a walk along a section of Auckland coastline, participants grouped to think about solutions addressing the threat posed by the ocean pollution. Some of their ideas were translated into constructions using the cleaned litter as their source material and are on display alongside objects from the museum’s collection, which were used as design inspiration.

Although one of the primary aims of the project was to empower the young participants with the confidence that they can make a difference in their community, all visitors to the exhibition are invited to actively engage with the issue by contributing ideas about solutions and participating through direct action.  

Ideally there wouldn’t be any rubbish or pollution in our waters, however an issue as large as this can seem overwhelming and it’s tempting to look the other way. The Roots demonstrate how by getting involved and working together, it’s possible to establish not only a sense of pride, but a connection between members of the community. Ultimately, an empowered community can effect positive change. 

What is an ocean gyre?

An ocean gyre is a system of circular currents formed by the planets wind patterns as well as the forces created by the earth’s rotation. The amount of debris continues to accumulate because most of it is plastic and therefore not biodegradable, it simply breaks down into tiny pieces - known as micro plastics.