Whanganui Street Art


Whanganui Walls Street Art Festival 2021

On a road trip through the central North Island in New Zealand in 2019, we stopped at Whanganui for a cup of coffee and stumbled upon the stunning street art from the 2019 “WHANGANUI  WALLS” International Street Art Festival. 

We were in Whanganui again in May 2021 and were able to catch up with the latest artwork from the 2021  WHANGANUI WALLS street art festival which took place from 18 -21st March and included live music.

Seven renowned New Zealand based artists transformed blank walls into amazing pieces of art.

We recommend that if you are in the Whanganui area that you call into the i-SITE in Taupo Quay down by the river and pick up a map of the locations of the street art and take a look! 

Thanks to Shanti and Simon ( Whanganui Walls organisers) for assistance with information, photos, and the street map. 

Dan Mills creating his street art

Listed below are the 2021 New Zealand artists, their artwork and an artist’s statement about their work.


2021 Swiftmantis street art


Artist Statement–    Hangar’s Home

The story of a Whanganui stray Cat, Hangar, who found his home at the local Airport hangar. He was most likely abandoned near the coast and followed the noise of planes and people to the runway in late 2019.

Although very timid at first, he quickly befriended not only the staff and pilots but also their resident Cat, Sherman, who was already notorious for sneaking on planes. After showing him the ropes, Sherman has since moved up to Tauranga leaving the entire kingdom in Hangar’s furry paws… and he’s loving it!

On any given day you can catch him hanging in the hangar, sleeping on the plane wings or the warm engine hoods after they’ve been freshly flown. But it’s not all naps and pats he’s got a real job too- taking care of the mice, rats, and rodents from causing any damage, and keeping the nesting birds out of the hangar.

Not even the noise phases him now, “He’s not afraid of anything or anyone…You can start an aircraft up right next to him when he’s sleeping on the taxiway and he doesn’t flinch”, Flight instructor Leroy Johnson said. “He also wanders down the apron and tries to get into the Air Chathams Saab while it’s on a layover, and wanders down to the terminal to greet the passengers.”

Photo Credit – Mark Brimblecombe


2021 Milarky By Whananui Walls.jpg
Photo Credit – Mark Brimblecombe


So while Milarky had many reasons for this work and has a lot to say on many grades within it, he won’t.

The meaning you find in it is the correct one, and the importance of its meaning is only important if it is to you.. this wall is for the people who see it, let it deliver what, or what not, you need it to deliver.

Artist Statement-Aquanaut – “..a visual artist’s statement often weakens or contracts the arrival of a work to a public-space audience, being the artist’s choice and use of the medium is imagery, not wordsmithery. With-holding a creator’s description places allowance in the delivery of meaning within the visual to land in varied realms, so it can then lean responsively on the direct viewers, on their own encounter’ance of the work, and in their personal understanding and place in time.”

Milarky, 2021.


2021 Dan Mills street art
Photo Credit – Mark Brimblecombe

Dan Mills

Artist Statement–  The images are evocative of playfulness and the wisdom of children.

My own daughter’s influence so much of my own work that we discuss my projects together now. At home, we have a shoes and phones off policy, better to build forts, climb trees, and ride bikes, which fits in well with the bike shop.

The typewriters are references to the analog environment.

The rising tides lift all boats was a phrase that represented positive change. That phrase now has a more sinister meaning with the advance of climate change and rising seas.


2021 Flox street art
Photo Credit – Mark Brimblecombe


Artist Statement–   “This piece makes reference to our collective guardianship and the responsibilities we have as humans in the fight against global warming and Extinction.”


2021 Mica Stil.jpg
Photo Credit – Mark Brimblecombe

Mica Still ∇ Artist

Artist Statement– “When I was painting more regularly, I wanted to create guardian animals of the space. The tiger and wolf are personal motifs for me. I chose them to empower the viewers with the strength we need.

I am from a town similar to Whanganui – a river mouth town. My river is Columbia, Astoria Oregon. The river was a source of strength, our lives revolve around it. I love watching the tides rush in. I added the moon element as the influence it has on the tides.


2021 Charles & Janine Williams.jpg
Photo Credit – Mark Brimblecombe

Charles & Janine Williams

Artist Statement–  The Kārearea being a guardian or good omen, pushes forward progressively everything it has learned from the past, into the present, then the future.]

Its bold statement paints an image of forward movement, something symbolically needed in these uncertain times we live in…..

Kia Kaha Kia Maia Kia Manawa Nui – be strong be steadfast be willing….


Photo Credit – Mark Brimblecombe
2021 Mike Marrsh street art

Mike Marsh

Artist Statement –  “The piece is predominantly about having fun and adventure.

It is about experiencing life with a pinch of salt and not taking things to seriously.

It’s also, in a quirky way , about community.

It represents the mixing pot of life and living harmoniously alongside seemingly odd characters”

Painting Mike Marsh mural


Photo Credit – Mark Brimblecombe
2021 Youth Art Wall.jpg

Whanganui Walls Youth Art Programme.

The Whanganui Walls  Youth Art Programme offers local students an exciting opportunity to learn new techniques and develop the necessary skills to create their very own piece of street art.

Over 4 days they learn the processes of painting a large-scale mural from start to finish, starting with concept ideas, colour options and the final layout of their collaborative mural. Then during the weekend period of the festival, they bring their concept to life.

YOUTH ART WALL 2021 Whanganui Walls

While you’re in the Whanganui area take a drive along one of the best road trips on New Zealand’s North Island the WHANGANUI RIVER ROAD!

The Whanganui River Road trip is a fascinating 65 km detour off the main highway, following the river from the sea to the mountains, and steeped in history, beautifully presented marae (Maori meeting places), small rural communities and surrounded with stunning native bush, river views, and rural farmland.  

Click on the poster for your guide & more information

Below is a street map showing the locations of the murals around town.

If you’re going to see the street art make sure you take a copy of this map or pick one up at the i-SITE office, as some of the locations are tucked away!

2021 Festival Map.jpg


in 2019 eight national and international artists were invited to take part in the first street art festival in Whanganui. Although there was no set theme, they were given some historical information, and a four-day time period to paint their murals on buildings in the central downtown area. 

Most of the artwork reflected some aspect of Whanganui’s past or present, and this made it a more interesting display than just a set of random murals. 

Here are the 2019 street art murals.


Elliot Francis Stewart- Street Art- Whanganui

This mural was painted by New Zealander, Elliot Frances Stewart. It shows ‘a strong female character who has adorned herself with a variety of accessories that reference moments in Whanganui’s past and present.’

For example, the coffee mug has a ‘Made in NZ’ logo on it referencing the song ‘Pie Cart Rock and Roll,’ which was New Zealand’s first homegrown rock ‘n roll song written by Johnny Cooper- the Maori Cowboy, a kiwi rock ‘n roll pioneer, who was known to frequent the Whanganui Pie Cart on St Hill St.

Gina Kiel- Whanganui Street Art.jpg


Gina Kiel, another New Zealander, created this mural. This ‘head’ portion of the mural reflects the time in Whanganui in 2011 when there were reported UFO sightings. “-óne eye follows you wherever you go.”

Gina Kiel, Whanganui Street Art


Whanganui Street Art- Mentoring Particip

 An important part of the festival was the Mentoring Programme. Seven, year 12 and 13 local artist students, were selected to be mentored by the Whanganui Wall artists and learned all about how to paint large scale outdoor works. They created their own mural on the Youth Art Wall. It was a great opportunity for these young local artists to experience professional street art.


Claire Foxton- Whanganui Street Art.jpg

Claire Foxton from Australia painted this mural of two elders from the local iwi, Kataraina Millin and her Aunty Josephine Takarangi-Firmin, affectionately known as Aunty Noti. Both women are well respected and active in Whanganui  with the protection and passing down of knowledge for their people and the wider community.


Pat Perry, Whanganui Street Art - Copy.j

Pat Perry from the USA painted this portrait of local Whanganui modernist artist, Edith Collier, who achieved success and acclaim in London where she studied and exhibited from 1913 to 1922.

However, on her return to the conservative community in New Zealand, she was treated harshly especially for her nude paintings. Her father burnt many of her paintings and she ended up working on the family farm and helping with child-rearing.


Cracked Ink Whanganui Street Art.jpg

Cracked Ink, one of the organizers of Whanganui Walls produced this comic book strip style of mural about scenes from some unusual and weird local stories e .g a local museum curator, who transported the carcass of a whale from Hawera to the Whanganui Museum on a train!

AMOK ISLAND- Netherlands

Amok Island- Whanganui Street Art.jpg

This is Amok Island’s contribution. He has had a lifelong fascination with nature and its history with mankind. The theme of natural exploration and conservation is a strong and constant undercurrent of Amok’s work.

This Whanganui piece of artwork depicts the native New Zealand Pokotiwha- Fiordland crested penguin. 


Cinzah- Whanganui Street Art.jpg

Cinzah is a New Zealand artist. He says “This work is about Man’s connection with nature. Recognizing and honoring that we are all a part of, and are one and the same as nature. We are not separate and above, even though we often think and behave like this. The figure is fragmented apart and forced to introspectively look back at oneself, diving into its own psyche. 

This is a little note to peel back the layers and look inward every now and then, as well as externally to enjoy and honor our surroundings. The mural features an array of flora and fauna, with the main focus being the hero symbol of the Karearea (New Zealand falcon) a bird of prey, representing strength, focus and determination.

You can get some idea of the size of the mural by comparing it with  the size of the ‘Bag Carrier” standing at the front.

Jacob Chrisohoou


“The purity and essence of love, the ultimate energy on this planet that we get to experience and share and grow through conquers all. Every religion, each culture and ultimately each species can be peeled back layer by layer to its core of love” -Jacob Chrisohoou

SHIDA X ENO from 2013

This street art is actually from 2013 when Shida X ENO traveled New Zealand painting a series of murals in several different towns.

Whanganui Street Art 6.jpg

The words painted on the top right-hand corner of the building are very apt for this festival.

They say- ” By far the greatest and most admirable form of wisdom is that needed to plan and beautify cities and human communities.”-Socrates 

Whanganui Street Art 5.jpg


Whanganui Opera House - Copy.jpg

On our wander around the streets in search of the street art, we came across this very impressive historic building- The Royal Whanganui Opera House, which is now over 120 years old and the last Victorian theatre still standing in New Zealand. There was an interesting variety of events being advertised and we were disappointed we wouldn’t be in town to see some of them.

Thanks to Whanganui Walls for the information supplied in their programme.

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