Eyesore building soon to be eye candy

By John Cousins


A Kiwiana mural will soon transform one of the ugliest, graffiti-blighted buildings in the Western Bay.

Street artist Jason MacArthur, nicknamed JAM, has been commissioned to beautify the former Shell service station near the intersection of State Highway 2 and Welcome Bay Road at Papamoa.

Z Energy was spurred into action by a letter from Papamoa Progressive Association chairman Steve Morris who said the empty building had become a magnet for graffiti.

"Offensive graffiti, rubbish and even an old couch took up residence there. Not a very welcoming or appropriate entrance to Papamoa or Tauranga."

Mr Morris wrote to Z Energy and followed it up by posting photos of the service station on the company's Facebook page.

"Within minutes I get a phone call from Z saying they would get to the bottom of it and sort it," Mr Morris said.

The Facebook post attracted 876 likes, 110 comments and 40 shares, something Mr Morris said was "pretty phenomenal" for a Papamoa issue.

Z Energy senior communications advisor Sheena Thomas told the Bay of Plenty Times the derelict station had not been on the company's radar until they were contacted by Mr Morris.

"Steve certainly spurred us into action," Ms Thomas said.

Z Energy does not own the service station but runs the truck stop at the back of the site, she said. After talking with the owner, who was looking for another tenant once Z Energy's lease expired shortly, it was agreed to remove the graffiti and replace it with a mural.

Mr MacArthur has already roller painted out the graffiti and created a surface for his kiwiana mural which he intends to start in the next two weeks.

A month ago he painted a Marilyn Monroe mural on the neighbouring cafe wall, the first thing people see as they approach from Te Puke. He said the cafe owner's business had suffered from the graffiti.

"I kind of felt for his situation so I did it free of charge," Mr MacArthur said. His new mural will feature Kiwiana icons, not necessarily to do with the Western Bay.

He declined to go into detail, saying he and Z Energy wanted it to be a surprise as the painting unfolded.

It's his biggest commission so far and will take about three weeks to complete.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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