James Cook School in Marton is a winner in the Keep New Zealand Beautiful Wall Worthy mural competition this year and their Celebrating the Rangitikei mural is almost complete.

Each year Keep New Zealand Beautiful asks schools to submit what makes their town or school unique and illustrate how they would tell their story through a painted mural.

James Cook School submitted its winning idea at the beginning of the year and pupils have until the end of this term to complete it.

Rather than paint the mural on a school wall, principal Michelle Cameron had a discussion with the neighbours whose corrugated iron fence was being constantly tagged.


"They had admired a mural on the school wall and said they enjoyed looking at it," she said.

The new mural, with its scenes of cliffs, water and farmland now graces the fence and every one of the school's more than 200 pupils have had a hand in its completion.

A team of five Year 7 and Year 8 pupils have worked with art teacher Rei Hendry and volunteer artists Richard and Doreen Cotgrove to co-ordinate the completion of the work.

"The Year 1 children painted the tree in the middle of the mural," said Mr Cotgrove.
"And they can all tell you which one is theirs."

Passersby have also added touches and Ms Cameron said there has been a lot of enthusiasm from the community.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful chief executive Heather Saunderson says the nationwide initiative is aimed at the elimination and prevention of graffiti vandalism from a community- based approach to changing behaviour.

"There tends to be a reduction in tagging when urban murals, reflective of the local community, are used to
replace graffiti vandalised walls," she said.

The James Cook mural also has individual panels cable-bolted to the fence which fit with the Rangitikei theme and include the Ratana church at Raetihi, cows, a tractor, a dog herding sheep, monarch butterflies and the multi-cultural face of the Rangitikei.

The Wall Worthy contest has now been running for six years and is sponsored by the Ministry of Justice and Resene.

Winners receive Resene Paint vouchers, a sports camera, drop cloths, stickers and treats to get their mural started. On completion of the mural, they will also receive an iPad mini.