Participation is the key to ownership



20 May 2016 - Recently I had the pleasure of working with community member Waitiahoaho Emery and the children from Whangamarino school to embellish a new toilet facility at the Waipuna Delta, Lake Rotoiti.  The end result is just magnificent.

But this little gem adds more than just colour and vibrancy. It’s sending strong signals of community pride and ownership to the world.  And as you continue on into our city you realise it’s a beacon, a calling card, a promise of more to come…

Prior to taking on this role, I spent over twenty years delivering the mural art form across the country and abroad, and have seen first-hand the potential for murals to lift community spirits and pride.  When delivered with diligence, the mural art form is a powerful medium. More than just decorative, it celebrates identity, stories and aspirations.

As you might imagine, the execution of public art carries a huge responsibility. Aside from the need to consider the physical and cultural environment, I’ve always found greater success occurs when there is consultation or inclusion of community in the development of the work. Ownership comes through participation.

Fortunately for our city then, the selection of our public art is via a panel representative of our community. The voice of youth, iwi, elected members, stakeholders, guest artists and others give their mandate to a preferred artwork.

Our most recent mural in the CBD by Jeremy Shirley was chosen in this way, and it looks truly stunning.

In the past three years, no question about it, our city has really started to come alive. We’ve seen a number of large-scale prominent murals, sculptures and other art initiatives breathe life into tired empty spaces.

Rotorua, once the fastest growing city in the country has always been the cultural flagship. Right now, other cities are sitting up and taking notice. We’re looking great.


Page reviewed: 20 May 2016 8:00am