Celebrating community connections

The Twelve Trees of Christmas are on display at Red Square and along The Strand until mid-Janurary. Photo: Bruce Barnard.

They may not be everyone’s idea of a traditional Christmas tree, but the Twelve Trees of Christmas in Tauranga’s CBD have been decorated with the love of more than 700 people.

Tauranga City Council and The Incubator Creative Hub have brought a community and arts focus to Christmas in the city centre this year, with 12 wooden trees decorated with painted discs made by local schools, tertiary organisations, artists and community groups.

The pohutakawa-inspired trees, incorporating a stylistic kowhaiwhai pattern, were designed by local artist Ashlei Luckman-Taupaki and are on display in Red Square and on The Strand until mid-January.

The Incubator director Simone Anderson says the Twelve Trees of Christmas was an opportunity for the community to contribute to a temporary public art project during the festive season – a time where community connectedness and whanau is encouraged and celebrated.

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless says it is a unique way to bring some festive cheer to the city centre.

“We see it as a project for the community, by the community,” says Greg. “It’s an opportunity for more than 700 people in the community to see their artistic talent on show.”

Some of the community groups involved in decorating the trees include: Toi Ohomai students and staff, Te Wananga o Aotearoa, Maungatapu Primary School, Tauranga Multicultural Society, Tahatai Coast Primary School, Te Tuinga Whanau Trust, Te Aranui Youth Trust, Graham Dingle Foundation’s Project K, Tauranga Pryde – Rainbow Youth, Bethlehem Primary – Te Ao Huri Huri , YMCA, Pillans Point Primary, Tauranga Society of Artists, Omokoroa Art Group, Welcome Bay Primary, The Te Puke Art Society and the Tauranga Hospital Children’s Ward.