Street Art in Kawerau
The Waitangi weekend that has just past (February 8-9 2014) saw the first of an exciting new festival called Street Legal take place in the beautiful town of Kawerau, in the North Island’s Bay of Plenty. I was lucky enough to take part in the action which included staying at the beautiful and uniquely multi-cultural, Rautahi Marae (Rautahi roughly translated means ‘many into one’).
Street Legal is a “celebration of NZ street art, music and artists”. This years event was the first of it’s kind and is certain to be remembered by all in attendance. Taking place over two days there were over 20 of the countries top street artists including Askew, Phat 1, Diva, Kost 52, Johnny 4 Higher and Elliot Francis Stewart from TMD crew and OD (aka Owen Dippie, who grew up in Kawerau!) painting live, live music from some amazing bands including Katchafire and much more…there was even live horse painting!
Day one the weather was a little damp to say the least but that didn’t stop the performers or the locals from getting out and enjoying all the festival had to offer. Artists began painting their master-works (which will be a permanently displayed roadside and visible when people enter the town) each with an assistant from the Kawerau Youth Council, Tarawera High School and Waiariki Polytech art or music students. There was carving demonstrations by artists from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and performances from musicians of The Crescendo Trust of Aotearoa. The day concluded with a fine performance by headline act Katchafire – it actually stopped raining for them! You can see more images of day one here but it seems the photographer didn’t stay long enough to capture the whole day.
Day two the sun came out in full, sunscreen was issued, artists finished their boards at the festival site and relocated to paint the local Hammer Hardware before returning home.
For me the best thing was meeting the people of Kawerau and taking part in a truly community spirited event. The festival was alcohol, smoke, drug and patch free and about people coming together to celebrate a new venture for the strong community culture of Kawerau that exists outside of those things, having a good time learning from one another and enjoying the natural environment.
Here are a few pics I managed to sneak in between painting…