Walls around Whangārei will soon be emblazoned with murals painted by artists from all over the world who are coming together for the city's first international street art festival.

Street Prints Manaia is the fourth international street art festival organised by Mount Maunganui-based charity Pushing Arts in New Zealand Trust (PAINT) and the first held in Whangārei.

Creative director of the festival Jah Smith, who is from the Far North, said local, national and international artists would be coming together to create about 15 large scale murals in the city for the festival which runs from January 24 to 28.

"Basically these murals are going to be dotted around Whangārei city - close enough so people can walk the arts trail and check out the artwork while it's being painted," he said.

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Whangārei's Earnest Bradley, who is behind several murals around the Hātea Loop, is one of the local artists involved in Street Prints Manaia. Photo/Michael Cunningham
Whangārei's Earnest Bradley, who is behind several murals around the Hātea Loop, is one of the local artists involved in Street Prints Manaia. Photo/Michael Cunningham

Local artists involved include Bryce Williams, Earnest Bradley, Melinda Butt and Mike Tupaea, while some of the international artists include 2Alas from Miami; Askew One from New York; Dourone from Belgium; Fin DAC from Ireland; and Paola Delfin from Mexico.

Smith said the artists would also be mentoring about 30 youth who have been identified through different organisations including police, Ngātiwai, and Whangārei Youth Space.

"They don't have to be into art - some of them are musicians some of them we get from the street, so some taggers. It's going to be a variety of youth."

In addition to the live mural painting there will also be workshops and an art exhibition which will give locals the chance to purchase the work of the attending artists.

Smith said it was Dublin-based artist Fin DAC who encouraged Smith, and his wife Lovie, to bring the festival to Whangārei.

The couple took the Irish artist to Whangaruru, where Lovie is from, in 2015 and he fell in love with it.

"At the end of 2017 we took him back up there and he said 'why are we not doing anything up here, up north, I love this place, it's so beautiful', and he became our first sponsor."

After that they met with Whangārei District Council and local kaumatua Te Warihi Hetaraka - who is Lovie's uncle.

"It's going to be a really good action packed weekend, it'll be busy and a lot of people will be coming to it. But there'll also be a lot of organic people because it's happening in the city so people will see it - that's the beauty of it."

Smith said a map of where the murals will be painted and a schedule of events will be released closer to the festival.

For more information and a full list of artists visit streetprints.org.