Solving the Mystery of the Maungie Mural

I've lived in this area for nearly 6 years and every few days I drive past the mural painted on the outside of the Maungaturoto Public Toilets. I used to wonder what it was all about with whales, sea creatures and birds painted across the concrete surface. I did ask around but no-one seemed to be able to tell me when it was done, why it was done or who the artist was.

I've been meaning to take photos of this mural for a while but just seemed to forget or when I did remember I didn't have the camera handy. This time I made certain I had the camera and I made a point at stopping to photograph all of it. Of course I got some strange looks from passers by. Why in heck would the editor of the local rag bother with that old thing?

My answer to that would be simple enough. Because it's a beautiful work of art and because time is taking its toll on the artwork which at anytime may be painted over by the District Council. We don't know. But already graffiti damage, leaks in the concrete surface of the building (aka a concrete watertank) have damaged the artwork and some of the images have been painted over.
You can see the damage caused by a leak in the concrete. The dolphin I think represents the rare Hector's Dolphin frolicking in the sea surrounded by other sea creatures.

Finally after having a nice long chat to our bus driver Len I found out the real story behind the mural's creation. It turns out it was done by then local artist Patricia Owens, who conceived the idea after the win of NZL 32 in the 1995 America's Cup. Above is the representation of the famous boat now installed at the National Maritime Museum in Auckland.

The mural represents not just the America's Cup win but also takes a journey down the length of New Zealand with various representations depicting scenes from Northland down to the South Island High Country. The creatures unique our coast, bush and sea are represented in small images each one recognisable for their uniqueness and rarity. More photos below....

It's sad to see the mural in such a poor condition. How long it will remain can't be predicted. So far it's withstood 15 years of weathering by the elements. I'd like to see it restored as reminder of an event that stopped our nation. In a way too, it's a memorial to the superb yachtsman Sir Peter Blake who was killed in 2001 by prates during an excursion to the Rio-Negro in Brazil during his time with the Cousteau Foundation as Head of Expeditions.

"Having vision is not enough. Change comes through realising the vision and turning it into a reality. It is easy to espouse worthy goals, values and policies; the hard part is implementation." - Sir Peter Blake

I won't forget his Red Socks or the day NZL 32 Black Magic with Team New Zealand won the 1995 America's Cup.


  1. Great photos, Liz. We need to keep an eye on those colourful parts of our streetscapes and towns. Hope that one doesn't disappear too soon.


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