A bright, stylised painting of the region's geothermal wonders and a visual depiction of a
Te Arawa legend were the stand-out winners at Rotorua's first Mural Symposium.

Australian artists Tom Cosic and Eve Soemardi took home first place and $10,000, for their mural Nova Zealandia.

"I am really surprised and I am looking forward to having a couple of days off to enjoy your area," Cosic said.

"The symposium is an excellent initiative and it is an honour to be judged so highly. I love the other pictures and have had a great time."

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Local artist Jacob Chrisohoou won the $1000 people's choice award for his airbrushed mural depicting the legend of how the region came to be geothermal.

Jacob Chrisohoou with his people's choice award-winning mural. Photo / Ben Fraser
Jacob Chrisohoou with his people's choice award-winning mural. Photo / Ben Fraser

"It's a privilege and an honour to win the people's choice. It was definitely unexpected.

"The legend I wanted to depict was around how geothermal areas were created.

"The high priest Ngatoroirangi was climbing Tongariro when he was struck by bad weather. He called out to his two sisters Te Pupu and Te Hoata and they came under the ground as fire and created the thermal landscape from White Island to Tongariro.

"I used the two sisters to show the legend."

In August artists were invited by the Arts Village to submit their interpretations of the theme.

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From 20 submissions, eight were chosen - each with different techniques.

All the artists were commended for their work during the week-long symposium by judges Marc Spijkerbosch and Karen Hunt.