For almost a decade the students of James Cook School in Marton have had a heavily tagged corrugated fence down a residential side lane of their school as a playground back drop.  Regardless of the numerous attempts by the fence owner to curtail the tagging nothing seemed to prevail.

In term 3 of 2015 the school’s Art Club leaders, group of six senior students, decided to try and make a difference.  A mural plan was developed and negotiations entered into with their school neighbour; the fence owners Mr and Mrs Wick. The Wicks embraced the opportunity to work alongside the students and gave permission for the students to work their magic.  They had only two conditions.  The mural had to be of a similar standard to the mural they viewed each morning in the school as they drove out of their driveway and it had to have a tractor.

The Art Club developed their design in collaboration with their tutor Mrs Rei Hendry and community artists Mr Richard Cotgrove and Mrs Doreen Cotgrove.  Their design would celebrate the Rangitikei landscape with panels attached to the corrugated iron magnifying images of significance to the Rangitikei rohe.  The final designs to go onto the panels were chosen by Mr Wick, local iwi Ngati Apa representative Mr Mike Patu and Rangitikei District Council Mayor Mr Andy Watson.  It was at this point the mural design team became aware of KNZB mural competition and an application submitted.  Their project met KNZB criteria and the equipment and cash prize pack supported their vision to become a reality.

The enormity of the task ahead meant that community engagement was non-negotiable and a clear plan of attack was implemented.  The Art Club leaders, tutors and invited community artists completed attached close up image panels during term 2 and on rainy days in term 3.  Sheets of rusting corrugated fence iron were replaced by Mr Wick.  Overgrown shrubbery and fence undercoating was completed by Art Club leaders, parents of the school and school caretaker.  Art Club leaders transferred the scaled up design from paper to fence in sections.

From the beginning of term 3 every fine day was maximised.  Once pencilled mural outlines were completed every student from Year 1 to Year 8, a total of 206 students, had an opportunity to paint   the landscape mural.  Staff, parents and community members simply walking down the lane on a fine painting day also made their mark.  In total over 350 people contributed to completing the mural.

Now and for years to come, thanks to KNZB and Resene the James Cook School students and Marton residence have a backdrop that celebrates the Rangitikei rohe; their home, their place of standing.

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