Dawson Road Mural Project

Affirming and empowering South Auckland voices, the Dawson Road Mural Project invites artists to respond to the voices and interests of those who use the space. Dawson Road is in the suburb of Otara, in the heart of South Auckland. The population of Otara is almost 70% Polynesian and 20% Maori; the local secondary school, Tangaroa College is 43% Samoan and approximately 40% of the community is under 20 years of age. The aim of this strongly participatory community arts initiative is to develop a striking public artwork that ignites pride and enriches a sense of ownership of the park and local area.

Visit Dawson Road Mural Project blogsite for regular updates.


Affirming Pakeha identity… this from the Auckland T-shirt company, Mr Vintage who came up with the genius “Blame it on South Auckland” t-shirt in 2008.

Manukau councillors seeing red over ‘bad rap’ T-shirts
New Zealand Herald (11 December 2008)
By Beck Vass

An Auckland clothing company has upset some Manukau City officials by selling a T-shirt which they believe plays on the “bad rap” associated with South Auckland.

Mr Vintage, an online clothing store which specialises in T-shirts, is advertising a sale on a T-shirt which contains an image of a row of power pylons and a person tagging a train, that reads: “South Auckland … just blame it on them.”

The company says the T-shirt is a shot at “the pesky folk that call themselves the ‘media” who are “always pretty quick to jump on any link of criminal activity with South Auckland”.

But Manukau City’s Otara councillor, Efu Koka, said he did not believe the company and was “not happy” the shirts portrayed South Auckland as a bad place.

“It’s really utilising the bad rap that South Auckland has to profit from.”

Manurewa councillor Daniel Newman agreed.

He said if the “bad taste” T-shirt was a dig at the serious crimes that have hit headlines in South Auckland, then it was really Wellington that was to blame because that was where politicians and the police commissioner made decisions that left South Auckland with some of its social problems and understaffed police.

 Councillor Dick Quax said the shirts were “grossly unfair”.

“I guess what they’re trying to say is if anything bad happens anywhere in the country, it should be blamed on South Auckland … There’s lots of things that happen all over the country but there’s also many, many good things that happen in South Auckland. It’s a bit dopey really.”

Manukau Mayor Len Brown was not particularly concerned by the T-shirts, calling them “just plain silly”.

“We may well be shaken, but not stirred really. It doesn’t do a hell of a lot for me.”

Mr Vintage managing director Rob Ewan said: “There’s no way this is supposed to offend any residents of South Auckland, it’s just a shot at the media really.”

Mr Ewan, who is from Papatoetoe, said half his staff were from South Auckland and had lived there for most of their lives.

The company had received about 10 emails from customers “not really understanding where we’re coming from” with the slogan.

The South Auckland shirt was not the company’s most popular T-shirt but was “definitely generating the most interest”.

Following a phone call from Mr Newman, Mr Vintage will be donating some of the proceeds from the sale of the T-shirt to the Randwick School Park gala to put the money back into the South Auckland community.

Dawson Road Mural Project



Manukau Arts, Libraries and Parks are working in partnership with Manukau Beautification Trust to commission a new large-scale outdoor mural for Ferguson Oaks park on Dawson Road in Otara.
Currently, there is a stage structure which has had murals on its walls in the past. Due to various factors during the past few years, the murals have been marked with graffiti and were eventually painted over. Now, it exists as a site which is well used by local youth as a meeting place but which isn’t very attractive. The creation of a new mural will improve the park’s appearance and bring colour and creativity to the stage structure.

This is a significant opportunity to bring local visual arts into the public realm and the mural will benefit the local community in a number of ways. The project’s aims are to increase local participation in the park and to encourage community ownership of public art that acknowledges the unique social and cultural landscape of the site.

Artists will be invited to submit a design proposal for the mural site. A short list of designs will be selected and the winning design will be chosen by public vote. The winning artist will work with a limited group of local volunteers to paint the mural as an event in the Manukau Festival of Arts in November 2009.

Artistic brief

Visual artists who reside in the Manukau area are invited to submit proposals for an innovative and colourful two-dimensional mural for the stage structure in Ferguson Oaks on Dawson Road, located in the vicinity of Tupu Youth Library in Otara.

Artists are encouraged to create a contemporary work that addresses both the interests of the community and the context and history of Otara, celebrating the cultural diversity and dynamism of the area. The design must also be sympathetic to the structural limitations of the site and relate to its public, park environment.

A series of interviews have been undertaken with park and library users to investigate their views on what the mural should represent. A further requirement is that artists must respond to the results of the interviews, which will be posted on the Dawson Road Mural Project website http://DawsonRoadMuralProject.wordpress.com
Deadline for proposals is Thursday 3 September 2009.

Judging process

From the submitted entries, the project team will short-list a maximum of six artists.
Artists who are short-listed will be required to undertake a short interview with a videographer to discuss their design and inspiration; this video will be made available to the public and assist in the voting process.
From the short list, the winning design will be selected via a public vote, to be undertaken at Tupu Youth Library.

It is expected that the short list will be announced by Thursday 24 September and the winner

announced by Thursday 29 October.


► The commission is only open to visual artists resident in Manukau.

► All submitted designs must reflect the artistic brief and satisfy the aims of the project.

► If short-listed, artists must be available for a brief interview as part of the judging process

► An artist fee will be awarded to the artist whose work is selected as the winning design

► The artist fee covers the intellectual property of the design, mural painting and mentoring of volunteers, plus two meetings for planning and evaluation.

► The artwork must be designed to be painted on the three stage pieces measuring approximately 2m high and 10m wide in total. (Illustration attached)

► The artwork must be applied using paints (Resene Paints) made available through Manukau Beautification Trust.

► The artists must be willing to lead and mentor a small group of volunteers who will assist with the painting

► The artist must be available to paint the mural during 10am – 4pm on the dates of 7 and 8 November 2009.

How to apply

Artists are required to submit the following information:

1. A written proposal outlining the design concept. This should include:

  • Artistic vision and ideas behind the design (maximum 1 x A4 sheet)
  • Details of the paint colours required
  • A suggested plan on how the work will be painted within the two-day timeframe.
  • Details of any ongoing maintenance issues

2. A maximum of 6 supporting drawings or visuals illustrating the design (digital or hard copy

formats are accepted).

  • Hard copy drawings/visuals must be on sheets no larger than A2 (42 x 60cm) in size

3. A current CV, including designs of any previous art commissions undertaken.

How to submit

The deadline is Thursday 3 September 2009.
Artists may send their applications by email to: Ema.Tavola@manukau.govt.nz or deliver hard copies to Fresh Gallery Otara, c/- Manukau Arts, Private Bag 76917, Manukau 2241

Artists will be informed of the short list by Thursday 24 September. The winning design will be selected by a public vote and announced by Thursday 29 October.

For regular updates and information