New mural celebrates local Taranaki heritage and culture

A new mural celebrating the heritage of a Taranaki school and telling the story of local culture was recently unveiled at Taranaki Diocesan School for Girls in Stratford.

The secondary school was one of ten winners in this year’s Keep New Zealand Beautiful Resene Wall Worthy Competition, which gives youth groups, schools and ECEs from across the country the opportunity to paint a mural with an environmental theme or message, to help beautify an area in their local community.

The name of the mural — Te Kura o Pi’opatanga o W’akaa’urangi — is also the Māori name for the school, which was gifted as a taonga to the school community earlier this year.

The mural tells a story about the history of a beautiful local area, and is full of cultural symbolism. The Iwi of Taranaki relate to three major waka: Ngati Maru, Ngati Mutunga and Ngati Tama. Deputy Principal Maria Taylor says, “The mural depicts the three waka voyaging towards the land, and the waves in the sea fade into the roots of the tree which represents our origins, our connection to the land and to each other.”

Handprints are used on the pohutukawa tree to represent leaves, but also to show the connection between the students of the school and the land on which the school lies. The beautiful Taranaki mountain is also seen in the background, to show its strong influence over the school and its students. “It creates a sense of home-coming and belonging.” 

The environmental message that has been incorporated into the design is that people (especially children) are the new life – a part of the environment and creators of sustainability.

“Our tamariki are represented by the handprints of the Pohutukawa, showing the idea of new growth, possibilities and infinite potential”, says Ms. Taylor. “The Tui and Piwakaka represent our thriving bird life, our new ideas able to take flight, and the compatibility of tangata whenua (people of the land) and nature.”

Ms. Taylor says, “We believe that this mural acknowledges our Māori heritage and encourages creativity among our students. This was an awesome opportunity for our school. Thank you!”

As part of the Keep New Zealand Beautiful Resene Wall Worthy prize, the school received $750 in vouchers for Resene paints of their choosing, painting supplies and a $500 cash bonus for the school.

About the Resene Nature Murals Competition
The Resene Nature Murals Competition, which is part of the Paint New Zealand Beautiful programme, ran from April to June 2022. Community members were called on to submit mural designs, which include an environmental message, for a wall to paint in their local community. Artists from around the country sent in their designs, with the top ten murals selected based on their environmental message, enhancement of the community, and originality/creativity. Winners then have 12 months to bring their mural to life.

Winning designs receive a $750 Resene paint voucher and other materials to paint their mural, receive a $1,000 grant upon completion

Keep New Zealand Beautiful CEO, Heather Saunderson, says: “Our Resene Nature Murals Competition provides a great opportunity for artists to beautify their local communities. In its sixth year, this competition continues to grow in popularity and we’re always so impressed with the calibre of entries we receive that narrowing down the selection to just ten winners is getting harder and harder. We’re so excited to see these murals come to life, knowing how the beautification of public spaces greatly benefits communities by increasing civic pride and deterring vandalism and anti-social behaviour such as littering and graffiti.”

The ten winning artists and regions are listed below, and their designs can be viewed here.

  • Micaela van den Berg, Sunrise, Kaipara
  • Brigita Botma, Harmony, Auckland
  • Carol Green & Kim Littlejohn, Bringing Nature to the City, Auckland
  • Corey Harbrow, Keep NZ Beautiful, Christchurch
  • Danny Owen, Nature, Invercargill
  • Leon Hohepa, Future Generations, Porirua
  • Matt Russell, Resilience, Wellington
  • Paranika Dudley Heeth, The Return of Nature, Auckland
  • Shann Whitaker, The Interconnection of all Living Things, Mangawhai
  • Vanessa Barclay, The World is in Our Hands, Cambridge

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