It was a pleasant surprise to discover Whanganui’s love of and support for street art. There is art everywhere, both in the central city and further afield, like in the seaside suburb of Castlecliff.

And it’s accessible anytime; no need to enter a gallery or queue to pay an admission fee. Street art is there for all to enjoy, always.

Whanganui INP
'Aquanaut, Find' by Milarky. Photo by Hamish Barwick.

In past years the city has celebrated its street art in an annual event called Whanganui Walls. Other artists in the fields of glassblowing, ceramics and painting opened their studios and the city put on a free music festival.

The public was able to watch artists such as SwiftMantis working on their giant canvases during the festival. And recently, several new pieces have popped up, such as ‘Hangar’s Home,’ a homage by SwiftMantis to a stray cat that hangs out by the airport. 

On another street, another building is given life with a huge man in a diving helmet exploring the sea floor. Entitled ‘Aquanaut, Find,’ it was painted by Milarky. Elsewhere, in a carpark off Drews Avenue, is ‘Te Ao Marama (The World of Light)’ a powerful portrayal of a wāhine crying – painted with great expression by Jacob Chrisohoou.

Another favourite is of a kārearea – a New Zealand native falcon – flying over the Whanganui CBD, painted by Charles and Janine Williams.

Visitors to Whanganui can spend the best part of a day checking out the street art, discovering surprises around many corners. Even locals find delight, spotting work they’d not seen before, perhaps stumbling upon the black and white stylings of Simon Ormerod aka Cracked Ink next to the Whanganui Opera House. His art is in several locations, including by the Sarjeant Gallery (currently closed for renovations) and behind the Whanganui RSA.

Reported by Hamish Barwick for our Autumn 2022 issue

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