A world first in street art will see giant murals up to three storeys high painted with spray cans on 15 downtown Tauranga buildings.
The project called "Larger Than Life - Owen Dippie" kicks off next month when a blank wall beside the Foodbank in Dive Crescent will be transformed by the aerosol artist.
"The whole project is about people feeling good," said project spokeswoman Anne Pankhurst.
Backers of the project, the City Centre Action Group, say the project will help to rejuvenate the downtown area and create a tourist attraction.
The murals will join the other big tourism drawcard now taking shape - the waterfront sculptural installation of storybook characters Hairy Maclary and his pals.
Ms Pankhurst said the first painting will represent the Michelangelo Italian Renaissance sculptures of the Medici brothers who shaped the history of banking. It will take about two weeks to complete.
The next two murals will also represent Renaissance masterpieces although Ms Pankhurst would not name the works. The other 12 will unfold as the money is raised, with no decisions made on the style or era of the art to be represented, except that it could include murals of New Zealand artworks.
Ms Pankhurst said they would be using a mixture of public and privately owned buildings.
"We are not expecting the council to put any money into this."
A well-known example of Mr Dippie's work in Tauranga was the Goldie mural on the side of Broncos Sports in Willow St.
Ms Pankhurst, who works for the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce, said the Michelangelo masterpieces were chosen to start the series because the Medici brothers were champions of commerce and patrons of the arts during a period when artists were bridging the gap between old and new.
A meeting of the Tauranga City Council on Monday will be asked to endorse the project. Ms Pankhurst declined to say how much it was costing except that it was being done with a lot of support from the artist and would not run into hundreds of thousands.
Mr Dippie's partner Erin Plummer said he loved a challenge and the bigger the wall the better. "Big artworks are his signature, his passion."
She said that while it would normally be expensive, he was taking the bare minimum because he wanted to make the city more attractive.
"We want to give the central city a character that everyone will appreciate."
Creative Tauranga chief executive Tracey Rudduck-Gudsell said it was fantastic and would create a lot of discussion, which was what public art should do.
"This type of interpretation has not been tried anywhere else in the world on this size and scale and in this form [aerosol art]," she said.
Tauranga architect Dennis Pocock said the town needed a bit of a lift and this would allow some artistic expression. The more flexibility there was in the artworks chosen to be represented in the murals, the wider the public appeal would be.
"It is important to keep young people interested and involved in the town. It is an opportunity to show that well done art can be a fantastic addition to any city."
Ms Pankhurst said the first three murals had money set aside to get them up and running. Beyond that was fundraising.