Matariki mural painting with Stephen Martyn Welch

Richard Elvey from Kahu Youth said that, this year in particular, he had been “blown away” by the “love and support of the community” in helping to pull the annual Matariki event together.

Award-winning local portrait artist Stephen Martyn Welch is calling all Wānaka artists to come down to the Dinosaur Park this Saturday and help lead this year’s Kahu Youth Matariki mural painting.

After another artist was forced to pull out of designing a mural for children to paint on the day of Matariki, Welch - whose son attends the youth club - took on the job with just two weeks to go. 

He has created a 2.4m long, 1.2m high celebration of what Matariki is - from native fauna to the mountains around Wānaka, the stars and a hāngi scene - and painted an acrylic undercoat for children to paint over.

Welch said he is seeking help from Wānaka’s “big artistic community” to help with “kid wrangling.” 

“If some adults want to come along and take on one section with one or two kids, they can make a really good go of the mural,” he said. “We want it finished on the day, so people can see it, and many hands make light work.”

Kahu Youth leader Richard Elvey said everyone was encouraged to “add their bit” to the “incredible looking backdrop,” which was an expansion on their plywood mural concept from previous years, thanks to Creative Communities Scheme funding.

The annual celebration of Māori New Year on the Wānaka lakefront was started by Kahu Youth in 2010. It has become a large community event, including two bonfires, performances from local students and kapa haka groups, cultural and interactive art workshops, alongside a hāngi which feeds over 500 people. 

Elvey added that, this year in particular, he had been “blown away” by the “love and support of the community” in pulling the Matariki event together. Until New Zealand went to level 1 on June 9, it was unclear whether it would be able to take place at all, and what would normally take four months to organise had been done in just five weeks.

Weather dependent, the mural painting will take place from 11am until 4pm in the Dinosaur Park. “If you’ve got time for an hour, just cruise down,” Welch said.

View edition 984 of the Wānaka Sun here.

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