Awanui's most prominent building has been transformed from paint peeling to appealing, thanks to a partnership between Chorus, Te Hiku Open Spaces Revitalisation Project and an up-and-coming local artist.
The $7 million Te Hiku Open Spaces Revitalisation Project was established last year and aims to beautify the area of Kaitaia, Awanui and Ahipara with funds from the Government's shovel-ready fund.
Suzie Clark is one of the Te Hiku project managers and has worked with local, aspiring young artists and businesses to complete five art pieces in the Awanui area over the past few years.
The Chorus Exchange is now the home of a new large-scale mural designed and painted by up-and-coming artist Cody Paparoa, whose design was inspired by the history of Awanui.
Cody's design replaced an old mural that had begun to peel away and was looking tired.
"We approached Chorus about using the wall of the exchange building for a new mural, as it is the most prominent wall in all of Awanui," Clark said.
"Visually, it can be seen and we were thrilled to get the green light to go ahead.
"We ran a workshop with one of the local schools about the history of Awanui and Cody just stood out as an amazing artist to me.
"I approached him about creating some art for Awanui and he jumped at the opportunity."
The mural depicts Awanui's kaitiaki (guardians), which are predominantly birds.
Local mother-and-son artists Kiri and Grayson Clark mentored Cody along the way.
Cody intends on going to art school.
"This project, thanks to the shovel-ready fund, has really opened the door for many of our young aspiring artists, as has the Chorus Cabinet Art Programme," Clark said.
"These community art initiatives have given our young artists the opportunity to show their talent and they're now getting offers to do more."
Far North district councillor Felicity Foy was responsible for spearheading the funding for the project and spent most of the first lockdown putting together the tender.
She said she was proud of the Te Hiku Masterplan and its outcomes for the community and local contractors and artists.
"When I created the proposal for the masterplan with the Kaitaia Business Association and the community board, the intent was to create vibrant communities and town centres," Foy said.
"I have heartfelt happiness to see artworks such as this, and all the works happening in our town centres.
"But most of all, for it to be community led and resulting in job opportunities for youth and more jobs and economic stimulus for our Northland community in general."
The project will be wrapping up in November with five more designs yet to be completed around Awanui.
However, this may be delayed due to supply issues.