A large vein of concrete in the heart of Hamilton is set to bring the city to life with more than just a lick of paint.

The Te Koopuu Mania o Kirikiriroa wall (sometimes referred to as the Wintec Wall) in Anglesea St will be the site of what is believed will be the biggest mural in the country.

And the scale of the undertaking has artists and art bodies impressed.
Hamilton artist and contemporary art programme co-ordinator at Wintec, Tim Croucher, understands the scope of the project. Mr Croucher has created more than 50 murals. The experiences provided him insight into the practical implications of large scale public art.

"Similar to designing a building, you've got to consider its longevity, functionality and who symbolically and economically owns it," he says.

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The artist needs to consider the heritage of the location, its physicality, its importance to local iwi and the cultures of the city."

Mr Croucher, whose comments echoed city councillor Ryan Hamilton, who is behind the project, says public art is critical for the wellbeing of communities.

"People want to see it reflects their values, who they are, what they do. They want to feel good about it. It's a part of our identity, so it's important to get it right.

"It's a huge undertaking, the process, the nature of the wall and it's structure, timeframe, public access and its dependence on the weather. It's very ambitious."

The project, more than nine years in the making, is being driven by Hamilton through the Beyond Tomorrow Trust with support from Creative Waikato.

"Art has to be something that captures our past, reflects our future and represents who we are. This project is about unifying and honouring our diversity," Mr Hamilton says.

Following expressions of interest, three artists have been selected to present their designs before an expert panel. The winning concept will be announced in mid-November and work is expected to start in early January, lasting for three to four weeks.

The wall is a cross section of a hill sacred to local Māori, seen as place of historical and modern-day learning. The project brief was informed by Te Haa o te whenua o Kirikiriroa, an iwi group representing local mana whenua.

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"The site is extremely important to Māori, we want that to shine through the work and capture the historical and cultural significance of the place," says Mr Hamilton.

Paul Bradley of Creative Waikato is well versed in navigating art policy and the council, which gave Mr Hamilton a sense of confidence around processes.

"There was so much to consider, the final council process, history of the site, materials, Wintec, site preparation, traffic management and ensuring robust iwi discussions. I was able to go back to council and present it with all the technical details addressed too. It got unanimous approval."