We are more than you see

Published: May 24, 2019

A young designer in care hopes his winning design for Youth Week will inspire people to realise and nurture the potential of our rangatahi.

Jordan and Jacob at Whangarei Boys High School basket ball court
Jordan and Jacob at Whangarei Boys High School

The depth of youth potential

Jacob Gibbons, 17, entered his t-shirt design into a competition by the Whangarei Youth Network to fundraise for youth services. 

It’s the first time Jacob has shared his artwork outside of school, and he hopes it will encourage others to see young people in a more positive light and help them pursue their passions.

“At a glance, people don’t see your talent. But if you stop and take the time to get to know someone, you’ll see everyone has potential,” Jacob says.

The design showcases the raw talent and sporting ability of his friend, Jordan Tavares, along with the message, “He wai hōhonu a mātou” which refers to the unseen depths of youth potential.

“I really wanted to collaborate with my friend and help him be recognised as someone who can become a professional basketball player.

“I incorporated the Māori design as it holds the values and customs of my culture.”

Youth Week design LOW RES
Jacob's design

Nurturing a passion for design

Both the boys grew up in Whangarei, and they live at Carruth House at Whangarei Boys High School.

They had three days to complete the design, and they needed every last minute as Jacob took photos of Jordan on the basketball court and then edited them through various computer programs.

“Editing is a very delicate process. You can plan up to 100 designs but only pick two,” Jacob says.

“I knew I was on the right track when I saw Jordan’s eyes light up when he saw the image animated and brought to life with new colours.”

 Jacob credits his friends and teachers along with his social worker from Oranga Tamariki, Daniel, for supporting him to discover and develop his passion. 


Young designer, Jacob Gibbons

“Try something new and have fun, that’s what life is about.”

“At the start of last year I didn’t have much skill, but I felt encouraged to keep working at it in my own time. When I was younger, I didn’t realise I had this potential, but now I feel confident to go on and study visual arts at AUT.”

He encourages other young people to find a way to express themselves, whether that’s through art, sport or dance.

“Try something new and have fun, that’s what life is about.”

There are only a handful of t-shirts left at the Whangarei Youth Space, but if you would like to purchase one and support the kaupapa, email the team at: whangareiyouthnetwork@gmail.com