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Bringing whakapapa to life

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Isaac (Zack) Bishara – Part time student and Frank Davis Scholarship recipient

ZACH2nnIsaac Bishara’s friends call him Zack. And he has many.

He is that kind of guy: a bona fide, grassroots kiwi man who would not hesitate to give the shirt off his own back if it brought another human being comfort.

Recipient of TLC’s Frank Davis Scholarship and a part time student in TLC’s Certificate Programme, Zack is a genuine man that works and lives for his community. He has a strong interest in healing both the body and the soul and is looking for ways in which to amplify his own voice and effect real change in society. 

His involvement in local, regional, and the wider international community has already bought Zack into contact with a wide variety of cultures, people and ideas. With years spent involved in policy and influencing change from both a flax-root and policy driven government level, he is keen to build a creative community focused on Māori art and performance. Constructing a strong community framework that embraces art, culture, language, and family at its center.

It is his belief that there is enormous potential lying within people facing everyday human challenges and in how they respond collectively to these. Zack encourages others to stay ‘wet and juicy’ with creativeness because once something dries out it becomes brittle and can easily break. Remain supple and adapt to life’s challenges and inspire others through art making, creativity, imagination and innovation.

In this vein, Zack is working on developing his own whānau whakapapa and connecting his community of relatives (relatives that stretch across the globe), and those who no longer have a physical connection to their marae. 

His art making is a living embodiment of himself and his ancestors. With Māori - the Ngāti Ranginui Iwi from Tauranga on his mother's side and the Ngāti Tūwharetoa Iwi from Taupō on his father's side, Irish, English and Arabic roots, Zack wants to pull all of this together to recreate himself through his art. To expose his family to that magical process and see where that exploration leads.

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“Using art helps bring my whakapapa to life and captures their interest in our shared genealogy.”

Connected by family to The Learning Connexion, (Zack’s cousin did the certificate programme a few years ago), he is hopeful that receiving the Frank Davis Scholarship will allow him to extend his reach further into the wider community. Providing him and his whānau whanui with new skills, techniques, ideas and inspiration. Creative thinking that will uplift their pursuit of whanau ora aspirations through mahi toi, art, creativity and provide a vision that will invigorate the lives of all people.

Zack explains:

“My whakapapa tells me directly: do not separate yourself from magic. You are not just a part of nature. You are nature.

You must re-create yourself and be creative and imaginative. Everyday.

Art is one of the most important things that humankind should be doing. Everyone should have a creative hour.

Connect to art and through art to others.”

Studying at The Learning Connexion offers Zack the space and kaupapa for him to explore his creativity and find ways with which to achieve his vision. For Zack being here is about learning how to live a creative life that still allows you to put food on the table. It invigorates him: “having all that inspiration filter through everything that I am, who I am, where I come from, and manifest into something is mammoth”.

Be like Zack and enrol in the Certificate in Creativity (NZQA level 4) programme. To find out more about studying at The Learning Connexion request a prospectus.


The Frank Davis Scholarship is an annual grant that is given to assist students in their study at The Learning Connexion. Find out more here




  • Christine Elks
    30/03/2016 8:59am (8 years ago)

    Hi Zack, how true what you say. So many ideas. So little time. The first term is fast moving and wakes up a new student to what can be achieved. Great meeting you this term, Zack, no doubt will be meeting you around the campus in the following terms. " Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life". - Picasso

  • Zack
    23/02/2016 11:28am (8 years ago)

    Mauri Ora Leo

    It's only Week 3 and I can't believe how much creativity we've been exposed to in such a short time thanks to you and Karla's awesome guidance Leo.

    The only complaint I have is that I have to sleep ha ha ha

    So many ideas
    So little time

    Arohanui Leo
    See you in class "wet and juicy"

  • Leo Semau
    22/02/2016 11:53pm (8 years ago)

    This is great work Zack! I hope you find the Certificate Programme an inspiring experience :)