Kiri is a digital journalist for bayofplentytimes.co.nz.

Mystery works spark Banksy speculation in Tauranga CBD

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Speculation is rife that international street artist Banksy could be in Tauranga after two Banksy-styled artworks have been discovered on the walls of central city buildings.

The images of a man and woman in a deep embrace, while checking their phones, and two children with a message referring to loving New Zealand popped up overnight in a service lane between Goddards Centre and 46 Spring St.

The two images are reflective of Banksy's iconic street art style, which are globally known for portraying strong political or societal messages. Banksy is also arguably the world's most successful anonymous artist. Despite years of fame, the identity of Banksy remains largely unknown.

Tauranga City Council communications spokeswoman Viktoria Ermes said they were still trying to confirm whether the pieces were in fact done by Banksy.

Ms Ermes said at least one of the pieces was a direct rework of a piece done in Bristol several years ago.

''It's very exciting, the not knowing, but that is what street art is all about. We really don't know who did it,'' she said.

The property on Spring St is about to be acquired by Pacific Property Fund and managed by Property Managers Group.

Group chief executive Scott McKenzie spotted the works this week and said he heard Banksy might be in New Zealand.

"The word on the street is that Banksy could be in Tauranga now to covertly promote the recently announced Paradox Street Art Festival taking place in Tauranga from March to June next year, of which Banksy's work will be a focal point," Mr McKenzie said.

"It's brilliant for Tauranga and New Zealand to have Banksy's work coming to the city and even more exciting to think he may actually be here in person right now," he said.

The first collection of Banksy artwork to be displayed in the North Island will be part of the 2017: Paradox: Tauranga Street Art Festival, which will run from March 28 until the end of June.

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