One of Tauranga's favourite artists will create a huge life-like tribute to honour a local aviation hero, thanks to a turn of serendipitous events.

Graeme Hoete, or Mr G, is creating a circular 2m wide portrait of the late Oscar Garden, the first New Zealander to fly from England to Australia.

Garden made the historic journey in a tiny Gipsy Moth aeroplane named Kia Ora in 1930, aged 27. He died in 1997 but lived for some time in Tauranga as a tomato grower.

Now, Mr G will create a portrait of the aviation hero for Tauranga Airport's

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