Every time four young Far North men drive home they have the strange experience of seeing themselves several times larger than life.

That's because the waka ama champions are part of a mural evolving this summer on a once graffiti-plagued woolshed beside Purerua Rd in the northern Bay of Islands.

Most of the painting is being done by Kaikohe artist Chris Wilkie, with young members of the Kaihoe o Ngati Rehia waka ama club prepping and priming the Landcorp shed as a fundraiser to help them compete at the national championships at Lake Karapiro.

Mr Wilkie started just before Christmas and last week completed the first wall, depicting four kaihoe [paddlers] celebrating a win in last year's waka ama sprint nationals against the landscape of Te Tii, the nearby settlement where the club is based.


He is now painting the Purerua Peninsula's sacred mountain, Mataka, on the wall directly facing the road. Mr Wilkie said it would not be a straightforward depiction of the mountain but would be "ghosted", like many of his paintings, with faces and the waka Mataatua.

"My easel art will finally come through in this mural," he said.

The paintings would include messages in te reo encouraging youth and reflecting positive features of the area.

The final wall will portray Marsden Cross, which marks the site of the first known Christian service in New Zealand at nearby Oihi/Hohi on Christmas Day, 1814.

The idea was to have the shed, a long-standing eyesore, transformed into a work of art well before visitors start arriving for the service's 200th anniversary.

Mr Wilkie said he was celebrating an anniversary of his own because it was 30 years since he painted his first large-scale mural on the now demolished A&P Show buildings at Whangarei's Town Basin. He has also painted the Jack Morgan Museum at Hukerenui and Marino Court in Kaikohe.

Tapuaetahi resident Mike Stephens is driving the project and raising the money needed. Waka ama club members Rose Heihei and Tuppy Kaiawe have been directing the young workers.

Mr Wilkie said Te Tii kaumatua Arana Munro had given the mural his blessing.