Mural needs input from iwi

By Sonya Bateson

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Plans for a mural on Dive Cres have stalled so iwi can be consulted on the nature of the painting.

A mural by Tauranga artist Owen Dippie was due to begin on a council-owned wall in Dive Cres during the school holidays but was put on hold after a meeting between Tauranga City councillor Larry Baldock and iwi representatives from Ngai Tamarawaho and Ngati Tapu.

The mural was to be one of a series of Renaissance paintings reproduced on walls around the city, backed by the City Centre Action Group.

Cr Baldock said he was at the launch of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gate Pa plans last week at Trinity Wharf when he realised iwi groups hadn't been consulted about the mural.

"The project was presented to us but we hadn't consulted with the iwi involved in that area so we're seeking their opinion. Because of the sensitivity around the cultural site, they thought it just wasn't the right image for the wall at this time."

Cr Baldock said it would be difficult to find a local or national image to reproduce due to issues with copyright laws.

"Councillors expressed it would be better for a local or national image or something in relation to the Battle of Gate Pa, I don't know what will eventuate. It's really between iwi and the artist, it's got to be something Owen feels he wants to paint. It would have been worse if Owen painted it then found there was a real offence to iwi."

Murals on the Elizabeth St parking building are next on the agenda and Cr Baldock said he was keen to see Dippie's work on the walls.

Ngai Tamarawaho spokesman Pere Kohu said the planned mural for the Dive Cres wall was inappropriate due to the cultural significance of the area.

"I think if we sat down and had a talk we could come up with something that would be appropriate. I don't have any views on the murals but I do think what was going there wouldn't be appropriate for the area. The opportunity is there even if it was raised in a way we weren't consulted, I'm happy we've moved past that stage."

Mr Kohu said he would be happy to sit down and talk with relevant parties about ideas for a more appropriate mural.

Project spokesperson Anne Pankhurst said the issues around the project wouldn't stop it going ahead.

"We've already had several offers of walls to paint on, there has been a lot of interest from the commercial sector. Everything is all on track. We came across a couple of issues when the [Dive Cres] wall was still being sandblasted, the wall still needs a bit of extra work on it which also held things up."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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