Taranaki Playcentre unveils winning environmental mural

A new mural, titled ‘Mana Whenua – Belonging‘ was recently unveiled at Ōkato Playcentre in Ōkato, Taranaki.

The early education centre was one of ten winners in last 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 at their school or in their local community.

The bright and bold mural spreads across the three exterior walls near the Playcentre’s main entrance, and part of it is visible from the nearby Surf Highway. The mural comprises of depictions of key landmarks for the region including iconic Mount Taranaki, which is nearly mirrored in its positioning on the wall to the mountain itself.

The mural also features the Kaitake ranges and Hangatahua River (Stony River) which flows across all three wall panels, connecting them as one. Native plants including Kawakawa, Kōwhai and Harakeke, found in the local environment, frame the setting.

Ruby Fleming, President of the Ōkato Playcentre, says “the children are familiar with their surroundings, and as teachers we aim to guide our tamariki to understanding their integral part of this local environment we live in – we teach them how to be Kaitiaki, guardians of the environment”.

A unique part of the mural is that of a bee seemingly floating on a bubble. Ruby says that during research for the mural, the Kaiako (teachers) found that bee species endemic to Aotearoa and found in Taranaki included Hylaeus Agilis, which blow honey bubbles. 

“The solitary bee represents each child – our tamariki of Okato Playcentre are small and mighty kaitiaki for their environment. A single, small bees’ contribution in the massive ecosystem can seemingly go unnoticed. But let’s all be like the bee, let’s all do our part, no matter how small it may seem. It can make a world of difference!”

The mural beautifies a previously blank concrete brick wall and helps teach the Playcentre’s tamariki, in a fun way, that conservation and protection of the land, the sea and their local awa (river) is of huge importance.

“Our hope is that this art will brighten our community and that it will be the first thing our Ōkato Playcentre Whānau see as they arrive for their session. That they immediately feel a sense of belonging.

“When we feel a strong sense of belonging to our environment, we endeavour to look after our taonga (treasure),” says Ruby.

Resene Wall Worthy Competition winning design’Mana Whenua – Belonging‘ at Ōkato Playcentre.

About the Resene Wall Worthy Competition

The Resene Wall Worthy Competition, which is part of Keep New Zealand Beautiful’s Paint New Zealand Beautiful programme, gives early childhood centres, schools and youth groups the chance to express themselves by communicating an environmental or conservation theme on a wall in their community. The competition helps teach children the importance of Keeping New Zealand Beautiful by getting them involved in creating the design and bringing it to life.

From all the submissions received, 15 designs were selected as finalists against the following criteria; creativity (25%), environmental messaging (25%), presentation and aesthetic (25%). The 10 winners were then selected after being put to public vote via social media, accounting for the remaining 25% of the overall score.

The winning submissions each received a $750 Resene voucher to put towards paint supplies for their mural.
The winning schools and their regions are listed below, with their designs visible on the Keep New Zealand Beautiful website here.

   • Creative Corner Early Learning Centre (Timaru)
   • Balmoral School – Eco-Warriors (Auckland)
   • Glamorgan School (Auckland)
   • Kaipara Flats Primary School (Warkworth)
   • Monte Cecilia Catholic School (Auckland)
   • Okato Playcentre (Otako)
   • Oranga Primary School (Auckland)
   • Tangiteroria School (Kaipara District)
   • Waihī Beach School (Bay of Plenty)
   • Papatoetoe West School was also a winning school, but has had to withdraw from the Competition.


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