Skip to main content

I have never been comfortable with the word “begging.” When I see someone on the street shaking a cup, I personally don’t see someone who’s begging so much as someone who’s “asking.” And when we interviewed some of our whānau for the “Inside the Cup” project, I found it interesting that they considered themselves buskers. The term lends a certain dignity. Much like the Piki Project hopes to do.

The design team at Lifewise have been working on an exciting project that is going to give our street whānau an opportunity to become street vendors. The Piki Project intends to tell a personal story through a unique work of art which will be printed on to a paper piki (feather) and a wooden heru (comb). It hopes to empower our whānau by replacing their busking cups with beautiful merchandise.

The project moved into the next stage of development last week with the help of our new whānau member, Paul Woodruffe. Paul, who was inspired by the “Inside the Cup” project, brought us the Piki concept all the way from the design department at Unitec, and has worked tirelessly to make this project a success. He also brought an open mind and heart, and an endless supply of passion, support and encouragement. We can’t say enough about him. The man is a legend.

Last week’s mission was to come together with our whānau to support them in designing their very own Piki. Paul brought an amazing array of art materials, and everyone got in on the action. There was even talk of turning the designs into posters, pendants and fridge magnets. It’s exciting to see the idea evolve and take on a life of its own.

The Piki Project will be further tested by our whānau when they take their designs and sell them on the streets. Please keep an eye out and lend your support; I know your encouragement will bring some beautiful smiles to some beautiful faces!

-Aggie, Lifewise Merge Café Community team – community development, co-designer

[vc_single_image image=”3379″ img_size=”full”]
[vc_single_image image=”3382″ img_size=”full”]

Piki are sold by our artists and vendors at various events such as the Crave Cafe Mother’s Day Market and the Lifewise Big Sleepout. If you would like to purchase some, please contact us.


To understand the experiences of people begging/hustling on Queen Street, a co-design process was used to develop the Piki ProjectThis work was led by Lifewise and a small team of people with lived experiences of homelessness. It is captured in the Inside the Cup report.

The Piki Project is supported by LifewiseUnitecAuckland Council and Heart of the City.