the two big projects we are bringing to life this year.

What we are looking for in collaborative partners:

  • Local connections with illustrative artists who may be good teachers for the day with us.
  • A venue that would benefit from having young artists engaged with them.
  • A venue that can host over 60 participants.
  • Connections with local arts communities who would benefit from becoming part of the Create Happy youth voice amplification whanau.
NZ Youth Arts Wananga by Mandi Lynn

Finding Venus

An opportunity to use art to impact change at a personal level.  This is a multi- award-winning project that includes

  • a multi-award-winning film and artist talk
  • creation of a traveling exhibition
  • creative wellbeing workshop which has won both an arts and culture award as well as a health and wellbeing award.

all centred around the theme of body gratitude as opposed to body shame.

History of Finding Venus and the Vision Going Forward

Art Outcomes


Youth Arts Wananga

  • 40-60 students from the region will receive two days of advanced training in visual storytelling skills for editorial and illustration.
  • Local arts organizations will be delivered rangatahi who are often their most difficult group to get in to their arts centres.
  • Local advanced illustrative artists and the collaborative partner arts organizations will have an opportunity to collaborate with the Create Happy national ecosystem of young creatives.
  • Community connections are woven and young talented artists identified and able to be supported by local arts organizations.
  • 6-10 young artists from each region will be offered an opportunity to continue their journey with Create Happy media.  They will be selected by the Create Happy team that is present based on their portfolio and team fit.
  • Their portfolios will then be featured on Create Happy Media Featured Artists Page.

Finding Venus Experience

  • 30+ Families will get to experience an arts based wellbeing program to support them with issues around deconstructing diet culture and learning to reclaim their body from colonization, the patriarchy, and consumerist culture.
  • Finding Venus Film about the Every Body is a Treasure Exhibition will be played and followed by an artist talk about the creative lessons learned in making a first film about impact art.
  • The evening event will allow 30-60 women per event to model and have the lived experience of becoming part of a national exhibition that is creating a visual counterpoint to the 600 photoshopped images we see each day.
  • Community building through art creation as the women will be working together in pairs to share their stories and find common humanity while they create their art.
  • Oral histories related to the lived experience of fat shaming culture and female body objectification, ageism, ableism, and the colonizing of the body will be collected and used ultimately as material for a podcast and for a book for the exhibition.
  • The final art outcome will be the creation of an art exhibition that can be exported to galleries around the world.

Proposed Collaborative Partners

Confirmed Collaborative Partners

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Māngere Arts Centre

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Confirmed Supporting Artists

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Master Photographer - Filmmaker

Mandi Lynn is a Past winner of New Zealand's Creative Photographer of the Year and has recently won Emerging Filmmaker of the Year at the Women's Voice's Now Film Festival in LA.  She is a youth worker and the founding mentor of Create Happy Media. 

Mandi is also a judge at the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photographer's annual Iris Awards and is a past Canon Eyecon Mentor.

She will be the lead facilitator at all of the events.

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Weta World Maker

Confirmed for the Pataka workshop in Porirua

Cory has 24 years of experience working in digital visual effects, almost exclusively for Hollywood produced feature films. During this time he has been engaged in multiple roles including matte painting, environments, lighting, animation, modeling, compositing, and look development.

He has had the pleasure of working on five VFX Oscar winning films: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy - The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King, as well as King Kong, and Avatar, and three VFX Oscar nominated films: Stuart Little, Hollowman, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

His true passion began in 2009 with his first matte painting. Since then, he has been transitioning into working predominantly as a matte painter, combining his artistic talents, strong lighting background, and technical skills. Bringing his expertise in these areas together within one medium has been truly rewarding.

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Pasifika Commercial Illustrator

Confirmed for the Pataka workshop in Porirua

Samuel’s earthy maturity, so prevalent in his work, comes from growing up on the tropical island of Tokelau, one of three coral atolls in the South Pacific. His father owned a vegetable plantation and was the subject of his first drawing, for which he memorably received a “big tick” from his teacher.


The family emigrated to New Zealand when Samuel was aged seven. Armed with a deeply ingrained sense of place, today he finds most comfort near water – rivers or the sea – and has an appetite for bananas, coconut and caramel – a true islander now with an urban twist.

Samuel has an admiration for mastery with his ultimate talent trifecta in Bruce Lee who he says is synonymous with fighting, Anthony Hopkins for his extraordinary storytelling versatility and Leonardo da Vinci who he describes in epic terms as a universal, multi-talented genius. Of course it follows that his fascination with the popularly theorised moment when a planetary body grazed across the earth to form the moon, is one moment he would gladly experience if time capsules existed.


Artist:  Samuel Sakaria


Proposed Itenerary