Saturday, July 13, 2024

Youth mural brightens city space

A new mural at Wellington’s Te Aro Park has been painted by young people, who say the art helps give them ownership of the space, and more pride in their city.

The project was led by Zeal New Zealand, a youth organisation that provides safe and inclusive online and local spaces. 

Wellington City Council helped by providing a space, and a grant towards the artwork.  

Zeal youth worker, Wasa Ali says he wanted to see the mural made so young people who liked street art could express themselves in a safe and legal way and gain a sense of pride in that part of the city.  

He got in touch with the council to see if it could provide a space for the artwork and found the buildings at Te Aro Park were an option.  

“The opportunity has been huge for the artists, it has shown them that there’s more to their talent, they have a piece of art in the city they can be proud of, and they’re thinking about making a career out of it now,” he said.

Artist Aidan Walbaekken (Te Āti Awa, Tainui), has worked with young artists before, and helped pull together the ideas and intention from the rangatahi involved.  

Close up image of the Te Aro Mural. Art reads

“What I did was take some of the core values and their typography street art and figured out a way to compose it alongside some other important symbols.”

One of those is a poutama which had been drawn by one of the young people already, which represents striving for excellence, and being a greater version of yourself.  

The other is an aronui tāniko, which represents the connection between land and people, and acknowledges the awa that runs below Te Aro, the Waimahipihi stream.  

The colours of the mural too are a nod to the water running below.  

Aidan says the rangatahi who worked on the mural hold a strong sense that the mural is theirs.  

David Ensor, Council’s Connected Communities manager, says the mahi in Te Aro Park has been focused on helping make the area friendly, safe, and vibrant. 

“We’ve heard from young people how important art is in a space to help it feel cared for – and that when it feels cared for, they feel safer as they feel like there are eyes on it. It’s awesome to have these young artists bringing positivity and creativity to the area.”

“We’ve also recently installed new festoon lighting into the beautiful Pohutukawa tree in the park, which adds to a positive atmosphere at night too,” said Mr Ensor. 

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