Tuesday, 20 August 2019


Major Whitianga street art festival to happen in March next year

The Mercury Bay Art Escape Trust has spent nearly a year planning a street art festival in Whitianga and their work has been rewarded. The trust is delighted that they have received a grant from the Tuia 250 Lotteries Fund for the Tuia 250 Whitianga Street Art Festival to be held in March in next year.

The festival will be a nationally significant street art festival to happen on the walls of many buildings in Whitianga as one of the events to mark the Tuia - Encounters 250 and local Te Pōwhiri commemorations.

Organiser Jane Parson is over the moon with delight. “News of the grant is fantastic as it secures the festival as being part of the Whitianga town upgrade,” she says. “The outcome will be permanent, vibrant mural artworks throughout the town for a long time to come.”

The festival will take place between the first two weekends in March when the annual Mercury Bay Art Escape Open Artists’ Studios will be held.

The Tuia 250 Whitianga Street Art Festival has been met with huge enthusiasm with 12 building owners welcoming the planned artworks on their walls. The festival will include several Mercury Bay Art Escape artists, among them patron artist Michael Smither, and well-known street artists from Auckland, Hamilton and elsewhere on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Renowned street artists Charles and Janine Williams will be working on a major wall in the Taylors Mistake walkway off Blacksmith Lane. Opposite this will be a large community wall featuring art from local schools.

Timing for the festival in March will be, in effect, a warm up for subsequent Tuia - Encounters 250 and Te Pōwhiri events during 2019. The exposure to paint materials, scaffolding and general health and safety issues relating to the proximity and numbers of spectators will be easier to monitor at this earlier time rather than when the majority of events are expected to take place in September and October.

Jane says that all the artworks will reflect the themes of “First Encounters” and “Navigation” to tie in with the new-look Whitianga townscape and with the stories to be presented by the Tuia - Encounters 250 and Te Pōwhiri commemorations. “These works will be a constant reminder of the history of Te Whanganui-a-Hei/Mercury Bay and the early relationship between local iwi and the seafarers who observed the transit of Mercury,” she says 

The Tuia 250 Whitianga Street Art Festival has already attracted a lot of support. Resene Paints, the major sponsor, is providing the paint through their Fagans Flooring Xtra ColorShop in Whitianga. The most generous support however, is coming from the artists who have waived their usual fees and donated their artistic services. “For this generous community donation many local businesses have pledged to contribute to pamper packages of goods and services which will make the artists’ visit to Whitianga an enjoyable one and show our appreciation of their generosity,” says Jane.

“A huge thank you to Creative Waikato for their professional support in helping to organise the festival, Thames-Coromandel District Council and the Mercury Bay 250 Trust [the trust coordinating the local Tuia -Encounters 250 and Te Pōwhiri commemorations], the building owners and all the sponsors and supporters - and to the wonderful artists who are going to take part.” 

Pictured are Charles and Janine Williams in front of their most recent mural project in Kaikohe.



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The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.