Unifying and connecting the local community is the impetus behind the Papaioea International Art Festival where 16 artists are working on large scale wall murals around the city.

The international artists from Australia, Ireland, the United States, Italy and Greece are in the city alongside Papaioea artists.

Pushing Arts in New Zealand Trust (Paint) and Palmerston North City Council have combined to bring Street Prints Papaioea inspired by the Manawatū region's rich history, natural beauty and unique people, says Street Prints creative director Jah Smith.

All artists started their murals on Friday and Wellington graffiti artist Chimp's Rangi and Papa on the Square Edge wall had already taken shape.

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The industrial designer said Rangi and Papa will be textural and the tui and bellbird will be realistic.

A whakatauaki or theme has been developed for the festival in collaboration with local iwi, Rangitāne.

All 16 murals will be themed kua kakahutia te Rangimarie,
under the cloak of peace, to represent the city's diverse community.

The city's youth will also have an important role to play during the festival, as organisers team up with local education providers to offer them the ultimate hands-on experience alongside the artists.

A Festival Hub will be located at the Square Edge Community Art Centre and will have artwork on exhibit from the festival's artists, and event booklets and maps will be available.

"As well as watching the murals take shape in real time, visitors can also participate in a number of events throughout the week including live music, food trucks, workshops, an art exhibition, and an auction to help raise funds for Paint," Smith said.

"All events throughout the festival are free to attend and open to all ages."

The festival will also make its Japanese debut in Hokkaido later this year.

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For more information on Street Prints Papaioea visit streetprints.org/papaioea.