Five new murals by Rotorua school students installed at Rotorua Airport today

Five new murals by Rotorua school students installed at Rotorua Airport today

Five new murals designed and painted by Rotorua school children are now gracing the walls of the terminal building at Rotorua Airport.

This is the third set of murals to be displayed on the terminal building, as part of a joint project between the Airport, Rotorua Lakes Council and local primary schools. The murals were unveiled by Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick today.

Since the project’s inception in 2013 around 500 children from 15 different primary schools have been involved in designing and painting the murals.

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Rotorua Lakes Council community arts adviser and mural artist in his own right, Marc Spijkerbosch, has been overseeing and facilitating the process since the first murals went up at the Airport in 2013.

For the current set of murals Mr Spijkerbosch started working with the students earlier this year, with the pupils submitting their ideas and drawings to tell their school’s unique stories and share ‘what’s cool about this school’.

“I have tried to keep the process as organic and student-driven as possible, so as to achieve real community ownership of the murals,” says Mr Spijkerbosch.

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“I really enjoy working with the kids – you can see the pride on their faces when they see what they have created, and when the murals go up the whole world gets to enjoy them.”

After receiving the artwork submissions and having many conversations with the children themselves about their stories, Mr Spijkerbosch, together with Helen English and Design Tank artists Maria Marshall and Glenys Courtney-Strachan, then collated the individual designs into a single mural design for each school. The final designs were then transferred onto the aluminium mural panels ready for the children to paint.

“The designs and ideas belong entirely to the kids and all five murals are completely individual – it’s important the artworks tell their stories, from their perspective. I merely work as the facilitator to make sure there is cohesion between the murals themselves and the environment they will be displayed in.”

He says the project gives the children hands-on insight into how murals are created, inspiring them and giving them something tangible and real, whilst teaching them techniques like how to blend colours and paint drying times. The resulting murals share stories of some of Rotorua’s rich cultural heritage and spectacular natural environment, as well as brightening up the city’s airport.

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Each mural, now hanging outside the Airport terminal, is 6 metres x 2.4 metres, and is made up of five aluminium panels.

The five community schools involved this year are St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Malfroy Primary School, Aorangi Primary School, Glenholme Primary School and Rotorua Primary School.

“This has been a wonderful opportunity for our tamariki to not only express their artistic abilities, but also their sense of place within our community,” says David MacMillan, Principal of St Mary’s Catholic Primary School.

With around 30 primary schools in and around Rotorua, all will have the opportunity to be involved. Murals are refreshed every 2 – 3 years and those that are taken down are returned to their respective schools for ongoing display.

Images credits:

Celebrating the new murals now installed at Rotorua Airport – Aorangi, Malfroy and St Mary’s students in front of the Glenholme School mural

St Mary Primary School students, Elvincent, Ryan and Caitlyn working on their airport mural

St Mary’s Primary School mural before being installed at the airport