Swapping graffiti-plagued walls for Pacific-themed murals is part of a new effort to prevent vandalism at a Porirua shopping centre
Fifteen local businesses, 120 students from nine local schools and seven local artists picked up brushes and spray paint to give roller shutters, empty walls and fence lines at the Cannons Creek Shopping Centre a fresh look.
“If we can get the community involved in making these murals and put them up, it’s going to prevent people from graffiti and vandalism because they are going to take more pride in the community,” said Tapu Elia, the chairperson of the Cannons Creek Business Owners Collective which was behind the project.
The main murals for the Creek Mural Project were created by New Zealand-born Tokelauan/Samoan artist Moses Viliamu​, with one dedicated to mental health and the other telling stories of the Pacific.
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The hand-painted mental health mural was spilt into three sections with the phrases “you matter”, “you are enough” and “you are taonga” and accompanied by motifs from the Pacific Islands and te ao Māori.
The mural of Pacific stories was created digitally before it was printed and pasted on the wall. It depicts Māui and his brothers slowing down the sun on one side and Hina, the Hawaiian goddess of the moon, producing t Kapa cloth on the other.
“We started out with all the different patterns and motifs to try and reflect the various communities in the area, the legends was also a part of that,” Viliamu said. “I really want to inspire our community to really push the boundaries.”
Another mural is one by Varu Samuel​ of a giant bat that’s found on one of the islands in the Cook Islands. Another is a Cannons Creek sign by Darcy Reuelu-Smith​, and there are other signs with greetings in different languages by students from nearby schools.
Elia, who owns a beauty salon at the shopping centre, said the project was inspired by the late Jay Marson​ of the Waitangirua Action Group, a group of women who cleaned up tagging hot spots in the city for years.
“I went up to her and asked what’s a permanent solution we can come up with to stop the graffiti and rubbish dumping and that’s not going to cost very much,” she said. “That’s how the murals were born.”
The artworks already had a positive flow-on effect for the shopping centre, with more people going there to look at the murals, or entire families heading over to enjoy their children’s artworks, Elia said.
“Some of the feedback we’ve been getting from people walking past is this should be done all over Porirua and I completely agree.”
Porirua mayor Anita Baker​ and her new deputy Kylie Wihapi​ visited the murals on Friday.
“The whole place is bright and vibrant – a great place for people to come and visit,” Baker said. “It’s just changed the whole attitude of the walking between the shops.”
“I love the community participation,” said Wihapi. “That’s the biggest thing and that’s what I love about it.”
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