Buying a Dick Frizzell painting might set you back thousands of dollars, now travellers along Auckland's Dominion Rd can see one for free.

Frizzell and fellow artists, Otis, who's also his son, and Mike Weston have transformed a wall on the corner of Dominion Rd and Ewington Ave - the first in a series of 12 street art works planned for the iconic Auckland thoroughfare.

Other artists will be able to apply for funding from the Dominion Road Business Association to create their own masterpieces. The association hopes it will lead to works painted by artists from diverse backgrounds, creating an art walk which celebrates the food, flavours and fashions of the multicultural neighbourhood.

Gary Holmes, manager of the association, says it was exciting to get artists of the Frizzells' calibre to start the project.

"Street art adds such a great dimension and sense of diversity to any area, as the recent proliferation in cities like Dunedin and Christchurch have shown," Holmes says.


Frizzell says helping to make a vibrant neighbourhood more colourful is made even more satisfying because it will benefit emerging artists by giving them a paid opportunity to "share their style with Auckland".

It's a sentiment shared by Otis who says it can difficult to launch a visual arts career.

"We're hoping to get a wide range of cultures representing their different styles, as well as some Kiwi artists, as this will accurately reflect the multicultural nature …"

He and Dick spent time walking around Dominion Rd, looking at the sites and listening for the sounds of the street, and taking photos to get a good feel for the area. Back in the studio, they decided to paint a collage of what they'd seen including two magpies sitting in a nearby park, signs in the buildings and food from neighbouring eateries.

Otis says interest in taking part in the project is high with a Facebook page asking for submissions attracting dozens of inquiries.

Abigail (Aroha) Jensen works on her piece Tino rangatiratanga first and foremost as part of the Harunga Project to bring colour to K Rd.
Abigail (Aroha) Jensen works on her piece Tino rangatiratanga first and foremost as part of the Harunga Project to bring colour to K Rd.

Meanwhile, community-based arts initiative the Harunga Project is brightening up Karangahape Rd. Curators Ahlia-Mei Ta'Ala and Momoko Burgess have co-ordinated 12 volunteers, including artists from Lifewise Trust's Piki Toi collective, to turn rubbish bins and street furniture into original paintings which capture the precinct's colourful history.

"The story of K Rd is such an important one and needs to be told so new people coming to the area can see its history ... from its early Maori origins to the ethnic and diverse area it is today," Burgess says.

"For marginalised people, the outsiders, the urban diaspora – it's a place where we can all feel we belong. This is our attempt to acknowledge the histories and the legacies of the people before us."


Artists have worked to minimise disruption to pedestrians but those who have seen the work have been full of praise.

"People are stopping to thank us for transforming the grey bins into works of art," Ta'Ala says.

"Some are stopping to talk about the work being done and as a result one artist has been asked to paint something for someone."