Eyesore gets arty facelift

By Peter de Graaf

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One of Northland's biggest eyesores has been transformed into a giant work of art.<inline type="photogallery" id="19040" align="outside" embed="no" />

Three spray artists have spent four days painting a striking, 240sq m mural on a disused wing of the Kaikohe Hotel.

The hotel occupies a prime position on Kaikohe's main street and has a grand past - it even hosted the Queen during an early visit to New Zealand - but has since fallen into decline.

The pub was closed for several weeks earlier this year after the High Court ruled it was a fire hazard.

Councillors and some Kaikohe residents have long complained about the hotel's appearance but the artists hope its transformation will inspire other young people to improve the town's appearance.

The project began when lessee Neal Summers invited Simon Ormerod, originally from Manchester but now living near Warkworth, to paint a section of the bar's front wall.

The Kaikohe Business Association paid for the paint needed to transform the biggest and most unsightly wall, and Mr Ormerod asked friends Cinzah Merkens (Auckland) and Misha Uteev (Auckland, originally from Vladivostok, in Russia's far east) to lend a hand. The artists donated their time for the project.

Mr Merkens said the trio wanted to and inject a bit of colour into Kaikohe and give something to the community.

"For an artist this is a real treat. The scale is amazing, and the wall has so many different textures."

Mr Uteev said mural projects in Auckland tended to "get lost in the urban jungle" and were not always appreciated. In Kaikohe, however, the artists had been visited by a constant stream of people checking out the mural, wanting to talk, and saying how much they liked it.

Mr Ormerod, who wanted his part of the mural to portray happiness and positivity, hoped it would inspire locals.


There's a lot of cool people here who really like it and want more of it ... hopefully, with the business association and the council, we can get more walls opened up and more guys involved."

Eventually Mr Summers wants to demolish the disused wing to make way for a retirement village.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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