"This is my gift to you and your whānau."

After weeks of planning and painting, Mr G unveiled a mural honouring aviation hero Oscar Garden in Tauranga Airport's new terminal.

Graeme Hoete, also known as Mr G, created a circular 2m wide portrait of the late pilot, the first New Zealander to fly from England to Australia.

The mural was unveiled on Sunday afternoon.

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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.

More than 20 people turned out for the unveiling.

Mr G unveiled the portrait of 'forgotten aviator' Oscar Garden in the Tauranga Airport. Photo / File
Mr G unveiled the portrait of 'forgotten aviator' Oscar Garden in the Tauranga Airport. Photo / File

Hoete opened the ceremony with a mihi and explained the meaning behind the portrait. He said he loved doing portraits and weaved parts of Garden's heritage into the frame.

Edinburgh Castle was placed on one side, with Mauao on the other.

Garden's clan tartan was also painted on the frame.

Hoete said it was an honour and a privilege to be able to use his talents to tell Garden's story.

He said Garden was known as the 'forgotten aviator' and he hoped that the mural would help shine more light on the hero.

Graeme Hoete (Mr G) created a portrait of Kiwi aviator Oscar Garden at Tauranga Airport. Photo / File
Graeme Hoete (Mr G) created a portrait of Kiwi aviator Oscar Garden at Tauranga Airport. Photo / File

The event coincided with Garden's daughter launching a book, Sundowner of the Skies, written about his life.

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Whakatāne-born Mary Garden travelled from Australia for the launch.

Had the unveiling of my OSCAR GARDEN Tribute Portrait piece (Spray painted portrait with custom frame) at the Tauranga Airport this afternoon. A truly incredible story of an aviation legend who considered Tauranga his home (lived here for 26years). Ill post up more posts on his story soon bcus everyone needs to know it! A huge mihi/thank you to everyone involved!

Posted by Mr G Hoete Art on Sunday, 11 August 2019

Mary Garden said Jean Batten had many public memorials and tributes placed in her memory but her father, who was just as significant in New Zealand aviation history, did not have any memorials before this.

She believed there was no better place for the tribute to be placed and said the was a "huge day" for her family.

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless also attended, saying he found reading Mary Garden's book fascinating.

The book is said to reveal the "warts and all" of her father's story. After quitting the aviation industry in 1947, he moved to Tauranga in 1953 to be a tomato grower. He stayed for 25 years.

In April, Hoete told the Bay of Plenty Times the airport had invited him to paint something for the freshly upgraded terminal.

There was a bit of "umming and ahing" about the different possible concepts the painting could follow, but Hoete said at the time nothing stood out to him and he decided to shelve working on the idea until a good idea popped up.

In a turn of a coincidence that might only be called fate, a family friend who had a connection to Garden came knocking on Hoete's door asking if he would be interested in doing an art piece on the pilot.

They met up at a cafe where Hoete was told "the guts of it" and and immediately came on board.