A design by artist Paul Walsh has been recognised as Rotorua central city's favourite painted power box after more than 700 public votes.

Walsh was presented with his $1000 prize at a ceremony at Rotorua Lakes Council yesterday.

Entitled Sulphur Point Geometric, Walsh's design features the small steaming islands of Sulphur Point as well as Mokoia Island, Ngongotaha and Kawaha Point.

Some of the comments about Sulphur Point Geometric included, "an amazing representation of Rotorua done by an amazing artist", "this is beautiful", and "stunning and clever".

Winning power box design by artist Paul Walsh - <i>Sulphur Point Geometric</i>. Photo/Supplied
Winning power box design by artist Paul Walsh - Sulphur Point Geometric. Photo/Supplied

The runner-up prize of $500 was awarded to Chris Newman for his quirky take on Rotorua locals entitled Vegas Bunch.

Twenty-eight Unison Network power boxes were decorated in November and December 2017 by 14 local artists.

Designs were based on the theme "The Rotorua Experience" and covered a wide range of Rotorua activities, cultural diversity, natural environment and more.

Walsh said he did nine of the power box designs altogether and it was a real honour to have one selected as the public's favourite.

He said the winning design took three days to do, partly because of mixing all the colours he needed for it and because so many people were talking to him.

"I think it's a way of bringing art into people's lives which has no barrier around it.

"They become part of the landscape. It's just one of the best ways to integrate art into people's everyday lives."

Walsh said he was born and raised in Rotorua with family still living here, and he now lived in Auckland with his family.


He said they come back all the time and his inspiration was the interaction of geothermal landscapes and the lakes.

Walsh has also painted 40 utility boxes in Auckland and was "stoked to come back to my hometown and do the same thing here".

Runner-up Chris Newman said it felt awesome.

"It's great to know the public vibes your work and appreciates what you do. It's a very positive thing."

Runner-up power box design by artist Chris Newman - <i>Vegas Bunch</i>. Photo/Supplied
Runner-up power box design by artist Chris Newman - Vegas Bunch. Photo/Supplied

Rotorua Lakes Council community arts adviser Marc Spijkerbosch is delighted with the success of the project and the local creativity now on display throughout the central city for years to come.

"It's been fantastic to see local artists showcasing such high calibre works throughout our CBD.

"Congratulations to all involved – this project adds colour and vitality to our inner city."

He said it was a project that was pretty special to him because almost 25 years ago he painted all of the power boxes himself with lake scenes.

"I learnt a long time ago that a painting or mural is an ambassador."

People have been voting from all over the world for their favourite power boxes, with some from the United Kingdom stating, "I wish we had them in London".

Project co-ordinator Helen English said all the artists involved were residents of Rotorua or had close ties and used to be residents.

Unison operations manager for Rotorua Richard Bailey said the power boxes were an essential part of the town infrastructure and they had to be there.

He said it was great to see the artists using the power boxes as a canvas, not only to display their work, but to promote the town.

"The variation in styles is great and demonstrates the local talent in the town."

To view a map of the power box locations visit www.facebook.com/creativerotorua