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Wednesday, November 20 • 1:30pm - 1:55pm
Community, art and activism: Designing and preserving the ‘We are Beneficiaries’ project

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In July 2017, Metiria Turei, co-leader of the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, spoke publicly about her experiences as a single mother on social welfare in the 1990s. In sharing her own story of feeling forced to lie about her flatting situation in order to provide for her infant daughter, she advocated for a more compassionate system, and for greater support for families and children living in poverty. Following her speech, the hashtag, #IamMetiria began trending on Twitter. However, there was also a strong backlash against her, and three weeks after her speech, Turei resigned citing “unbearable” scrutiny on her family. In the wake of Turei’s resignation, a group of artists began sharing their experiences as beneficiaries and creating art to document the struggles of current and former beneficiaries in Aotearoa New Zealand. This resulted in the ‘We are Beneficiaries’ project, which began sharing these visual stories online via social media. Since its launch in August 2017, the ‘We are Beneficiaries’ project collected, illustrated, and posted over 240 stories on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and is still ongoing. In January 2018, the Alexander Turnbull Library, the archives and special collections for the National Library of New Zealand, began working with the ‘We are Beneficiaries’ project to collect the digital artwork, administrative materials from the project, and the social media accounts, in order to preserve these materials as part of the National Digital Heritage Archive (NDHA). Sam Orchard will give an overview of the origins of the project (content, motivations, technical aspects), and the connections between art and activism. He will also discuss using art to humanise and destigmatise marginalised voices, and the important role of community development practices and ethical storytelling in social media activism. Valerie Love will discuss the Turnbull Library’s work to archive and documentation from the We Are Beneficiaries project to ensure that that its digital artworks and social media presence would be preserved long term. She will address some of the issues that live at the intersection of archival practice and the expressions of community and culture on the web and social media, such as consent, privacy, and gaps in traditional collections.


Sam Orchard

National Library of New Zealand
avatar for Valerie Love

Valerie Love

Senior Digital Archivist, NLNZ

Wednesday November 20, 2019 1:30pm - 1:55pm NZDT
Rangimarie 1 - Breakout Room Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Te Aro, Wellington 6011, New Zealand