Last week I travelled to Aotearoa  at the invitation of the Kotare Trust, to facilitate a two day welfare justice workshop. While I was there I heard about the recent ‘Political Poster Art in Aotearoa’ exhibition – a great fit with the upcoming Art and Campaigning forum co-presented by Melbourne Campaigners’ Network and Arena Project Space.

The exhibition displayed 150 posters from the Kotare collection stretching back many years, grouped together in these themes: treaty justice; unemployed workers’ rights; anti-nuclear/peace movement; housing; feminism and women’s rights; anti-surveillance; anti-globalisation; education; various environmental struggles; and social movement events.

Kotare’s purpose is to support community action for a more just world through participatory education and research in Aotearoa/New Zealand. So naturally, there was more to the exhibition than looking at posters. Four participatory workshops were also held: on the role of poster art in protesting the 1981 Springbok tour; an oral history workshop looking at ‘people behind the posters’; a screen-printing workshop; and sharing stories of postering and social change. Folks visiting the exhibition got to make their own posters and share feedback about those exhibited.


Jared Davidson, Otautahi/Christchurch artist, created the fabulous poster shown here for the exhibition. It states ‘Never in history did the rich and powerful give up their privileges voluntarily’. I was lucky to be presented with one of these by Tanya Newman from Kotare Trust at the close of the workshop I facilitated. I’m looking forward to hanging this in my workspace as a reminder of the excellent fellow travellers on the other side of the Tasman.

What political posters have inspired and engaged you? Examples of political art will be on display at the Art and Campaigning forum, 6pm Thursday 15 March at Arena Project Space in Fitzroy, Melbourne. Come along to discuss the connection between art and social change; hear from artists producing political work; gather some creative inspiration and practical tips for working with artists to enhance campaigning.

Posters and postcard sets from the ‘Political Poster Art in Aotearoa’ exhibition are available for sale. See the Kotare website – or if you have difficulty viewing the site, contact Holly at Plan to Win. Pictured here – ‘Poverty Sux – Unity is Strength’ (c. 1987, designed by Karen Kahurangi, produced by Auckland Unemployed Workers Union and the Combined Beneficiaries Union) and ‘Run a cake stall to buy a new bomber’ (c. 1984, designed by David Judd, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom), both reprinted with permission by Kotare Trust 2011.