A project to spruce up public toilets at Ototoka Beach which sparked online discussion and concern from iwi has been resolved with "lessons learned" and everyone happy.
Local artist Michelle Sigley, aka 'The Flawsome Artist", recently completed the project at the beach north of Kai Iwi.
Sigley painted one of the toilets as a basket, with native birds and flora on its sides, while the other featured Māori faces with moko - something that upset local iwi members and prompted public discussion online - with some praising her work and others dismayed with her use of moko on a public toilet tank.
"I got permission from the council to do the first tank, and sent an email off about the second one, which must have got lost somewhere along the way," Sigley said.
"I thought everything was hunky-dory, but I eventually received an email saying I couldn't go ahead with the face design.
"By then I had already finished it."
So she met with local iwi to discuss the paintings and it was agreed that the faces themselves could stay but not the moko.
"A large part of art is about making mistakes and learning as much as you can from them," Sigley said.
"I can see it from all points of view, and I'll definitely be more careful next time.
Ray Hina, of Ngati Maika, a sub-tribe of Ngaa Rauru, said the main problem was that no permission had been granted before Sigley completed her work.
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"I met with Michelle and let her know that we didn't agree with the moko faces that were up there," Hina said.
"The moko designs weren't in the original paintings that were sent to us through the council, and we didn't see them until they were already painted.
"The paintings themselves are beautiful, there's absolutely nothing wrong with them, but for us, it was all about the moko kauae and mataora, and the lack of permission."
Sigley said she planned to continue creating self-funded public artworks in the region, with her next project to take place in Waitotora.
"The wall in Waitotara is part of a heritage building that was under threat of demolition, and you can't miss it as you're driving through that area.
"I've also approached the council about potentially doing something at the skatepark in Kowhai Park, perhaps a giant teddy bear to remember all the bears in people's windows during the Covid-19 pandemic."
Sigley said she welcomed all ideas and locations for future public paintings, with the Otokoka Beach tanks being "the first of many."
"I'm glad everything got resolved, and hopefully there won't be any more controversy with the next ones."
To get in touch with 'The Flawsome Artist', go to https://www.facebook.com/thatartychic