Street art is becoming a huge trend around the globe - and an ever-growing number of Kiwi artists are making their presence felt on walls, buildings and other installations both here and internationally.

Graham Hoete - aka Mr G

Tauranga-based Graham Hoete - aka Mr G - made international headlines last year with his giant murals of NBA basketballer Steven Adams (painted in Oklahoma City) and Prince in the musician's hometown, Chanhassen, Minnesota.

As well as worldwide attention that earned him a nomination at this year's Matariki Awards in the Te Waipuna-a-Rangi (arts and entertainment) section, alongside Taika Waititi and Tangiwai Margaret Ria.


The 38-year-old is a former representative NZ volleyball player, and counts spear fishing and diving as his favourite pursuits alongside painting.

"I'm just really thankful for this encouragement and affirmation," he said of the nomination.

After several years in Sydney, Mr G returned home last year and wasted no time getting busy with local commissions.

They've included painting a cliffside mural of a well-respected Ngati Raukawa ancestor on private farmland near Te Awamutu. The site can't be seen from the road.

Then there's been the giant mural on a Mt Maunganui water tank, unveiled this month with a haka performed by hundreds of people. That work shows Mr G's support for members of the Tauranga-based iwi Ngai Te Rangi.

He's also working on a commission from rural supplies chain Farmlands to paint murals on 15 of its stores. Each one will be inspired by stories from locals about what makes their town, and the surrounding area, unique. It could well prove useful, too, for gathering ideas for its biggest project to date: 100 Portraits featuring everyday Kiwis throughout rural New Zealand.

"I don't fit into that 'street art' urban box but, for me, as a Kiwi, it's just a beautiful blend of mixing the street art aesthetic with New Zealand's natural beauty," he said.

"This whole thing with murals in my life, it's an adventure - I just love it."

Charles and Janine Williams - Painting the Pacific

Pioneers of street art in New Zealand, Charles and Janine Williams have spent 20 years working nationally and internationally creating murals which tell stories connected to the land (whenua) and people (tangata whenua).

Mating for Life, Charles & Janine Williams' giant mural at 358 North Rd, features putangitangi ducks and represents the unity needed between Pakeha and Maori to continue to build our city.
Mating for Life, Charles & Janine Williams' giant mural at 358 North Rd, features putangitangi ducks and represents the unity needed between Pakeha and Maori to continue to build our city.

In Auckland, they're best known for the Putangitangi ducks mural in Kingsland but, at home in South Auckland, their paintings adorn local schools, cafes, shops - even the wall of a Manukau laundromat - and churches.

Now, they're working on their most ambitious project to date: painting a mural in each of the 27 nations represented at last year's Festival of Pacific Arts in Guam. So far, they're three down - Guam, Tahiti and Rarotonga.

"Coming from South Auckland, we're used to being part of this big diverse community but when we went to Guam and saw each culture separated out, it was neat and got us thinking about representing each one," said Janine.

She said the pair had given themselves 10 years to complete the Paint the Pacific project. On each island they visit, they partner with locals to find out what stories they want the art to tell, which symbols they'd like represented.

In 2014, Charles helped achieve a new Guinness Book of Records feat by painting the world's largest graffiti scroll, a 2.2km piece of finest Egyptian cotton; a year later, he won the world Ono'u Graffiti Festival in Tahiti.

In between Painting the Pacific, the Williams family - including the kids aged 10, 12, 13 and 16 - has found time to participate in Tauranga's Paradox Street Art Festival and hold a retrospective exhibition, Huia Come Home, at Otara's Fresh Gallery.

Owen Dippie - designing art for Auckland's new destination alleyway, Custom Lane

In what could be Auckland city's next happening laneway, painter Owen Dippie's latest mural breaks from the large-scale realist portraits the 33-year-old is perhaps best known for.

Commissioned by the Grand Mecure Hotel to paint Custom Lane, a 25-metre-long wall now features a tiki design inspired by Dippie's own signature drawing. While it represents his distinctive style, it's also a tribute to New Zealand.

Originally from the Bay of Plenty, Dippie might be anonymous to many but his work certainly isn't.

His most-viewed outdoor pieces - at least in this country - are the three-storey high portrait of his friend Tania Cotter on the southern motorway, the "Chinese girl" alongside the Morningside rail corridor and, in Christchurch, a stunning image of a ballet dancer on the back of the Isaac Theatre Royal.

But he's also worked extensively in New York, painting a teenage mutant ninja renaissance masters mural, one of Notorious B.I.G and a cheeky take on the Madonna and child which paid tribute to the abstract style of fellow artist Keith Haring.

That led to the Huffington Post naming Ninja Renaissance Masters its Best Mural in 2015 (Dippie's Radiant Madonna) came in at No 9 and a commission to paint a giant Michael Jackson mural in Los Angeles.

Dippie has fond memories of the latter's unveiling, where Jackson's fans went full "Thriller", donning costumes and re-enacting the Thriller video's dance routine.

Producing such large works means Dippie spends hours perched at the top of cherry-pickers, boom lifts or carefully-places scaffolding.

Dippie returns Stateside this year for further work and, for the first time, to take up a commission in Canada. He hopes to continue his travels, "exploring the universal language of art", and making his mark on the world rather than just existing in it.

Janet Lilo - going bananas on Karangahape Road

From family shopping trips as a child, catching buses across town and to nights out, Karangahape Rd has long been part of Avondale artist Janet Lilo's life. So when she got the chance to add to its atmosphere, she didn't hesitate.

Janet Lilo's bright yellow, banana inscribed neon light sculptures, Don't Dream It's Over, now shine across K-Rd.
Janet Lilo's bright yellow, banana inscribed neon light sculptures, Don't Dream It's Over, now shine across K-Rd.

Using a banana motif she's worked with often and neon lights, Lilo created Don't Dream It's Over - three eye-catching banana-patterned light poles on the K Rd overbridge, originally installed as part of an upgrade for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Since then, they'd featured a pattern-based design by Tongan artist Filipe Tohi.

While she's previously made pictures of green bananas, Lilo had to use yellow so the colour of the light poles couldn't be confused with nearby traffic lights. Unveiled this month, the artwork scales the length of the six-metre high poles, part of Auckland Council's public art collection.

In the past, Lilo has had her work projected onto objects in galleries, museums and shop windows, the sides of buildings, empty bus stops and billboards. She's also known for photography and, this year, was commissioned to create new work for the Auckland Festival of Photography.

While she doesn't have a favourite medium, everything she makes highlights an interest in people and places and the influence of popular culture.