National | Apirana Ngata

Ngata mokopuna add family strokes to breathtaking mural

Mokopuna of Tā Apirana Ngata have added their paint strokes to a gigantic Graham Hoete art piece celebrating legends of Aotearoa.

The Palmerston North mural features Tā Apirana Ngata, Sir Edmund Hillary and shortly will also include Kate Sheppard.

Street artist Graham Hoete, aka Mr G, is eight days into painting the artwork.

Hoete was joined by whānau of Tā Apirana, his great-granddaughter Roberta Kaiwai-Paterangi and her daughter Rawinia who added their aroha to the portrait of their tupuna tane.

Hoete says the whānau found out about plans for the artwork through social media and got in touch with him.

"I thought, well, it'd be a cool idea, it'd be a cool thing to do, to get them to participate in the creation of Apirana's portrait, just to add a bit of aroha to the piece for that direct connection."

Rawinia Kaiwai-Paterangi shared her appreciation on Instagram.

"Ngā mihi bro, it’s been an honour and a privilege to have you here in Rangitāne. Thank you and Simon [Barnett] for acknowledging our pāpā Api and for this amazing opportunity. Your work is absolutely breathtaking!"

Tā Apirana's moko and her mother were not the only Ngata whānau to visit the artwork. Hoete says a grandson also spent time with their tupuna.

"I actually had Hapi his grandson, Tā Apirana's grandson, here the day after and he spent the whole day down here."

Hoete says he was "deeply touched that we're honouring him in this way."

The art piece was commissioned by Palmerston North sports gear maker OBO and founder Simon Barnett as a celebration of Kiwi success.

Hoete says a Māori member of the OBO team should be acknowledged for the special role he played in helping ensure Tā Apirana was included in the artwork.

"Sir Apirana Ngata is on the wall [because] a staff member of OBO put him forward, a young Māori fulla (sic) named Mohi Haig from [G]izzy who has links to Ruatoria. The boss agreed and decided to include Apirana on the wall."

The Palmerston North locals are proud of their new artwork, which Hoete hopes to finish in the next few days - with the completion of Kate Sheppard's portrait.

"I decided to take the commission on because it kind of aligns with what I'm about as well. It's really about reflecting the values of and I guess inspiring the community here in Palmerston North and just celebrating Aotearoa New Zealand legends really and I guess putting that out visually in a public open space."

The mural is being painted on OBO's building in Mihaere Drive in Palmerston North.

Hoete is an acclaimed street artist who has painted inspiring images of Māori throughout Aotearoa and is known internationally for major works such as his tributes to musician Prince.