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New Street Art Festival for Whitianga

28 November 2018

Mercury Bay Art Escape has spent almost a year planning the Whitianga Street Art Festival and their work has been rewarded.

Mercury Bay Art EscapeThe Trust is delighted to report that they have received a grant from the Tuia 250 Lotteries Fund for the Tuia 250 Whitianga Street Art Festival to be held in March 2019. This grant will enable a nationally significant street art festival to happen on the walls of Whitianga as one of the events to mark Tuia 250 First Encounters commemorations in 2019.

Our Council is proud to support Tuia – Encounters 250 and it has a particular resonance in Te Whanganui a Hei (Mercury Bay), as this was a significant arrival place of the great navigator, Kupe and was one of four landing sites for Cook’s ship The Endeavour centuries later in 1769.

“News of the grant is fantastic as it secures this festival as being part of the town upgrade and the Tuia 250 commemorations," says event organiser, Jane Parson. "The outcome will be permanent, vibrant artworks throughout the town for a long time to come."

The festival will take place during the week between the annual Art Escape Open Studio events held on the first two weekends in March.  The project has been met with huge enthusiasm with twelve building owners welcoming the planned artworks on their walls.  The project will include Mercury Bay Art Escape artists including their patron Artist Michael Smither and well-known street artists from the Coromandel, Auckland and Hamilton.

street artists, Charles and Janine Williams

Full time street artists, Charles and Janine Williams (pictured above) will be working on a major wall in the Taylors Mistake walkway off Blacksmith Lane.  Opposite this will be a large community wall featuring art from local schools.

Timing for this festival in March will be, in effect, a warm up for subsequent Tuia 250 events during 2019.  The exposure to paint materials, scaffolding and general health and safety issues relating to the proximity and numbers of spectators will be easier to monitor at this earlier time rather than when the Tuia events take place in September and October.

All the large works will reflect the themes of first encounters or of navigation to tie in with the new-look Whitianga townscape and with the stories presented by the Tuia 250 events.  “These works will be a constant reminder of the history of Te Whanganui a Hei  (Mercury Bay) with the early relationship with local iwi, and of the seafarers who came to view the Transit of Mercury," says Jane.

The Street Art Festival has already attracted a lot of support from Resene Paints, the major sponsor, who is providing the paint through their Fagans Flooring Xtra Colourshop in Whitianga. "The most generous support however, is coming from the artists who have waived their usual commission fee and donated their artistic services," says Jane. "For this generous community donation many local businesses have pledged to add to the pamper packages of goods and services which will make the artists visit to Whitianga an enjoyable one and show our appreciation of their generosity."

Photo below: Work by artists Charles and Janine Williams.

Work by artists Charles and Janine WilliamsAs well as the twelve major artworks, Mercury Bay Art Escape has been assisting our Council on the commissioning of three major sculptures to be installed on Taylors Mistake and the reserve near the wharf as part of the town upgrade.

“A huge thank you to Creative Waikato for their professional support for organising this event, Thames-Coromandel Distirct Council, the Mercury 250 Trust, the building owners and to all the sponsors and supporters – and to the wonderful artists who are going to take part," says Jane on on behalf of Art Escape.

If you have any further questions please email Jane at or phone 021 2286644 or for more information check out