Art teacher Gloria Seddon has an extraordinary ability to ignite the creativity that often lies untapped in her primary-aged pupils, but the achievements of her latest proteges sets a whole new standard.

Eighteen pupils representing 15 ethnicities (that rose to 16 at term's end with the enrolment of a child of Portugese extraction) contributed to a collection of portraits, each in their national costume, that are now displayed on the exterior wall of the art classroom.

"Some of the children were already working on abstract faces, so I built on that," Mrs Seddon said, but for many this was their first experience with a paint brush. And not only did the process reveal a rich vein of genuine talent; it also sowed a seed that many of the children clearly wished to nurture.

It wasn't just about painting though. The children did everything, she said, from research to tracing the wooden 'pallettes,' preparing and priming the surface then finally painting them.

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"Some had never painted on paper before, let alone wood," Mrs Seddon said, "but they quickly gained confidence and took control of their brushes."

She was proud of the finished mural, describing it as a evidence of how art could inspire children, saying "Most of them are keen to do it again."

The project began in May, Mrs Seddon, who also teaches at Paparore and Kaingaroa schools, giving one day each week to it, then full-time over the last two weeks. And it was officially completed, the portraits securely attached to their wall, each with the name and palm print of the artist beneath it, literally moments before it was blessed by Fr Carlo Cruz.

No one was more impressed than principal Kathryn Carey.

"This is probably the most multi-cultural school in the Far North. It's who we are," she said.

"The children here bring so much cultural depth, and this artwork is a really good way to express that."