A poignant mural that captures the legacy of the late Aunty Bea has been painted in the Rotorua CBD.

The painting, titled Te Toki Te Arawa Hero Mural, was designed to capture a Te Arawa arts hero and was part of this month's Aronui Indigenous Arts Festival.

Aunty Bea was a well-known figure in the Rotorua community and died last year after a battle with cancer.

She was a long-serving teacher, a giver, a fundraiser, an entertainer, an author and family woman who touched the lives of many across the country.

Artist Taumata Soloman with the freshly-painted mural. Photo / Stephen Parker
Artist Taumata Soloman with the freshly-painted mural. Photo / Stephen Parker

The mural is located on the side of Ajay's Emporium on Hinemoa St and was painted by Ngāi Tūhoe artist, Taumata Soloman.

Soloman said Aunty Bea fit the criteria for the mural with her wide-reaching contribution to the arts, education and the entire Rotorua community.

For this reason, he said the process in painting had been "so meaningful" to him.

Soloman had worked alongside Aunty Bea at Lakes High School, but had not known her well.

He said in order to do the mural justice, he sat down with her family to give the piece a "personal touch".

Aunty Bea would never be seen without a Māori-style scarf on so he crafted a red scarf, which was her favourite colour, spelling the word "aunty".

He also had a bumblebee tailing the end of the scarf as this was a signature on all the books she wrote.

Various koru and poi were also stencilled onto the mural as these represented her love for the Māori arts and her dedication to Te Arawa, he said.

He said at the end of the day, all he wanted was for the mural to capture Aunty Bea's well-known "beautiful smile".

The family was honoured to be gifted with the taonga of the mural, he said.


The mural was completed by the end of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. A ceremony unveiling it ill be held on September 29.