Combatting Graffiti With Art

Date published: April 3, 2014 at 2:34 pm | Comments

Kawerau locals, including Mayor Malcolm Campbell, proudly unveiled three of five planned murals by local landscape artist Bela Ughy last Sunday as part of the town’s 60th birthday celebrations.

The five historical murals back onto the main highway through the town and were commissioned for the Paint New Zealand Beautiful campaign. The programme, administered by Keep New Zealand Beautiful and sponsored by Resene and the Ministry of Justice, aims to create nationwide awareness of the need to protect our public spaces, combat graffiti vandalism and celebrates the efforts of communities that are graffiti-free.

The scenes, chosen after consultation with a number of long-time Kawerau residents, depict icons from the early days of the town; Fenton’s Mill, Shanty Town, the Hammerhead Crane, the Milk Cart and the Finnish Sauna. Sunday’s launch revealed three completed murals by Mr Ughy, with the final two murals to be painted in the next 2-3 weeks. All the murals will be treated with Graffiti Shield to protect and preserve them.

Mayor Campbell was pleased with the way the murals captured the town.   “They are fabulous, the likeness is amazing and they bring back some good memories,” he said.

It was very fulfilling to be involved with the township of Kawerau for the Paint New Zealand Beautiful launch last Sunday” says KNZB Project Manager Tracy Shackleton, “It is a close knit community with a deep sense of pride in their heritage.  KNZB was proud to be part of Kawerau’s 60th celebrations and happy that the town spirit is now proudly displayed via these murals for all to enjoy!

For further information on the Paint New Zealand Beautiful campaign and how your community can get involved, please contact Keep New Zealand Beautiful Project Manager Tracy Shackleton on

Thanks to the Paint New Zealand Beautiful programme, a wide array of public places have been decorated with wonderfully colourful and inspiring murals and much graffiti has been painted over. It’s our great pleasure to be involved with such a fantastic organisation that helps create a better place for all of us to enjoy.” Karen Warman, Marketing Manager, Resene


  1.  Fenton’s Mill – A native sawmill built during the Great Depression at Te Haehaenga, above the headwaters of the Tarawera river behind Lake Okataina.  Some of the earliest streets in Kawerau:  Fenton Street and Fenton Mill Road, led to the old mill and settlement and were named for Percy Fenton, the mill’s owner.
  2.  Shanty Town – During the early stages of building the mill and the new town of Kawerau, construction workers were housed in a company camp situated beside the mill complex. Most of the district population was concentrated at this and other sites near the mill and access between the town and the mill was difficult, so a shanty town of self-built retail premises and some residences sprang up on the private property on the other side of the road.
  3.  The Hammerhead Crane – Standing at 75 feet tall, the hammerhead crane was distinctive feature of the Tasman mill skyline for 27 years, until it was decommissioned in 1982.  Working 24 hours per day, the crane was used to unload log trains, stockpile the log yard and service the three log decks of the Wood Prep Plant.
  4.  The Milk Cart – Throughout the 1960’s and 70’s milk was delivered to households in Kawerau by horse and cart.  The big Clydesdale horses used for this purpose would get to know the run so well that the milk boy whose job it was to steer the cart could jump off, help deliver milk to a few letterboxes and hop back on, leaving the horse to steer itself.  If the horse got too far ahead of the delivery it would just be called back.
  5.  The Finnish Sauna – Seventeen Finnish families were brought to Kawerau in 1954 and 1955 to work for the Tasman Company and a further eight families and three single men were recruited in 1962.   As part of their contract, Tasman provided materials to build a sauna house, as sauna was an important part of Finnish life.  In 1955 the Finnish Community built a sauna house on a public reserve near the Tarawera River, which stood on the site until the year 2000.

About Keep New Zealand Beautiful:

  • Keep New Zealand Beautiful is a non-profit organisation and operates as an Incorporated Society (charitable trust) to promote litter abatement, waste minimisation and the beautification of our towns and cities.
  • Keep New Zealand Beautiful was established under the New Zealand Litter Act 1979 and has been operating ever since to provide branches at both a national and local level.
  • Governed by a Board of Zone and Industry Representatives, our strength is in our nationwide local, volunteer network that engages with their local communities to enable the implementation of programmes like Keep New Zealand Beautiful Week, Adopt-A-Spot, Wall Worthy, Beautiful Towns and Cities Awards.
  • Keep New Zealand Beautiful also acts as the conduit for the implementation and promotion of programmes developed by and in partnership with Local/Regional Council, as well as other non-profit organisations.

All photo credits: Heidi Petford Photography

Mural artist: Bela Ughy


All media enquiries and hi-res image requests:

Jackie Sanders // Marketing Manager

Keep New Zealand Beautiful

021 373739 //

Source: Keep New Zealand Beautiful