"A Tauranga Moana visual smorgasbord of Māori art with mana."

That's how local artist Graham Hoete - known around the world as Mr G - describes his first ever solo exhibition at Tauranga Art Gallery.

"It's a huge honour and privilege for me," Hoete said.

"I've titled it 'Home' and for me it's all about honouring my connection to Tauranga Moana through my mum and dad. Hononga is the main theme really, which is connection.

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"I really honour, explore and celebrate my connections to Tauranga but more specifically Motiti Island where my father's from, and Matakana Island where my mother's from. I believe we have some very unique and special stories, and I want to share those stories through my style and aesthetic."

Hoete is best-known for his large, spray-painted portraits and murals, but this exhibition is different.

"There are a few pieces in there that really go into my whakapapa and genealogy, and how important that is for a person in terms of their identity. I believe identity is a huge part of navigating through life knowing who you are.

"With these portraits my goal is to represent Māori portraiture.

"With Lindauer and Goldie, they were my heroes growing up. I believe I have one thing that they didn't and that is hononga, a connection to the Māori culture, because I'm Māori."

Hoete hosted a talk on the opening day about the significance of the word 'home', and how it means different things to different people.

"The concept of home that Mr G is operating on cements what I firmly believe myself," said local gallery visitor, Janice Ballentyne. "I come from a very big family but we've been spread around and to go back home is really important."

A full-time artist for 15 years, Hoete has spent the past 10 months preparing for today.

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"For me it's just so satisfying to be able to share my story and honour my parents, my whānau, my people and my connections to Tauranga Moana through my art. Once the show's finished, I'll probably die a happy man."

Mr G's exhibition will have a home at Tauranga Art Gallery until next February.

Made with funding from