A mural concept by a group of Whanganui artists is one of five winners in the Keep New Zealand Beautiful Nature Murals Competition.

Artists were invited to submit designs for murals with an environmental message, incorporating the natural environment around the wall into their design. Winning designs received a $1000 grant, along with a $750 Resene paint voucher and other materials to paint their mural.

The project depends on various approvals being received but if it goes ahead the mural will be painted by a group of artists on a 180m stretch of riverbank wall below Anzac Pde near Portal St, project co-ordinator Jacqueline Brand-Holt said.

"Collaborators to date include Cecelia Kumeroa, Hemi Kiwikiwi, Bayley Kauika, Mina Bourke, Naani Waitai, Tanea Ngapeka, Dan Mills, Sonia Sunshine and John Currin, with support persons Rere Sutherland, Rena Star and Lee Williams along with myself co-ordinating," Brand-Holt said.

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"This is a proposal to paint Pākaitore, a group of shimmering inanga and tuna through their spawning and whitebait/glass eel stages. The ecology of Te Awa Tupua is about keeping things in balance both from land slips and the loss of spawning habitat.

"There needs to be more planting along the riverbanks that grows into the water, creating sanctuary for the spawn," she said.

"The concept aspires to a better relationship with Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River) and its ecosystems. The subject of clean rivers is a hot topic in 2018, combined with the recent legal status of Te Awa Tupua now recognised as having legal personhood.

"The idea for this mural was born in collaboration with Ned Tapa of Tupoho. We have met with local iwi elder John Maihi who has advised on the concept. This dialogue will continue as the project develops.

"While it's very exciting to win, there's no guarantee the project will go ahead until those conversations have happened and we have all the consents we need."

The mural concept work in progress.
The mural concept work in progress.

A Whanganui District Council spokeswoman said the public arts steering group would consider the mural project early next month.

"The mural group is looking for match funding and endorsement of the project," she said.

"The council is also working alongside Jacqueline and her group regarding any other consents required. There are a number of other stakeholders and contributors involved."

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Brand-Holt said the artists aimed to have their sketch finished by the end of winter and, if approval is received, painting of the wall will happen during summer.

Because of the complexity of the project, Brand-Holt says Keep New Zealand Beautiful has given the group until mid-2019 to complete it.