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About us

Whau The People Charitable Trust is an interdisciplinary arts organisation, focused on creating opportunities for local people to access and participate in the arts within their communities. We do this by leading, supporting and advocating on community arts projects that bring together artists and community to empower, educate and connect.

header image: Siliga Setoga performance, Avondale, 2016


Strong, resilient and inclusive communities where local identity, diversity and creativity are nurtured.’


Our Team

Director:  Bronwyn Bent is an arts producer and programmer, theatre maker, and community arts practitioner with experience working with creative collaborators from a wide range of backgrounds and life experiences. She has worked internationally in professional theatre and arts festivals, and locally with organisations such as Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival, Arts Access Aotearoa, Auckland Live, MENZA. 

Director: Janet Lilo After completing a Masters of Visual Arts from AUT in 2006, I quickly learned there wasn’t a single job waiting for me in the real world. However, I was committed to practicing and working in the arts – knowing that I had to find ways of contributing to the sector and to initiate opportunities.
15 years later I am still working on contracts and projects that reflect all the things I that believe in.
Here is the kaupapa I wrote for myself after leaving art school – the words I return to each and every time a new opportunity presents itself: I would like to engage, involve, research and educate diverse communities using visual art and creative processes as a platform for learning and empowerment.

Director: Jody Yawa McMillan has a BFA in photography from Dunedin School of Art.  Based in Edinburgh, she worked forThe Red Door Gallery, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Festival and Kings Theatre and a car delivery service that saw her driving trucks and moterbikes across Scotland. Moving to Auckland, she has found purpose in the arts, community and not for profit sector working with NZ Housing Foundation, Avondale Community Preschool, Kelston Girls’ College and documenting and advising on independent art projects with a range of organisations and people. Te Whau is my home; it is where I live, work, shop, play and am a mother.


Our history

photo: Shelly Greco (2014)

First taking collective form in 2013, Whau the People founding members are: Leilani Tamu (Poet), Bronwyn Bent (Theatre Maker), Jody Yawa McMillan (Artist), Sam Morrison (Artist), Janet Lilo (Artist).

In 2013, Avondale Community Action supported a series of community art exhibitions and events at their pop up Creative Spaces on the main street in Avondale. Creative Spaces aimed to encourage, support and install a number of creative projects in and around the Avondale town centre.

At the end of this pop-up project, Whau the People arts collective was formed through a ‘call for action’ on facebook and from a fortuitous first meeting, they got brainstorming on future ideas. With a big dose of passion, a bit of naivety and lots of aroha the inaugural Whau Arts Festival 2014 was born. Recognising the breadth of creative diversity that exists in their local suburb and with support from the Whau Local Board, the group saw an opportunity to bring local artists and community together to showcase their work and activate the myriad of forgotten spaces that litter their suburbs.

Since then Whau the People have continued leading, supporting and advocating on community arts projects, events and workshops that bring together artists and community to empower, educate and connect.

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Thanks to our funders past, present and future: