Can art help create a sense of local identity and pride? If the comments on social media from Paeroa residents following the unveiling of Mr G’s first HeART of the Community art piece on Saturday 6th May 2018 are anything to go by, the answer’s a resounding yes. “Thank you so much for the beautiful gift you have given our little town!!” said one. “Thank you for making such a personal stunning gift to our lovely local town of Paeroa”, said another.
Even Hauraki district local mayor, John Tridega, recognised the enormous impact the Farmlands HeART of the Community project has had on the community. “They say a picture paints a thousand words and this painting says many things about the Paeroa community, including how proud we are of where we’ve come from and where we’re headed in the future.”
So where did the inspiration come from for this first stunning HeART of the Community art piece? It was the staff in our Paeroa store who, when asked what was at the heart of their town, mentioned the large horse teams and their fully loaded wagons that were a common sight in Paeroa historically. According to a local historian, “… they were the only transport to connect the junction wharf to the gold fields, eighty teams of horses worked from Paeroa to Karangahake, Waikino and Waihi”.
The history of the area struck a real chord with Mr G. Combining the horses with the locally recognised ridgeline (Paeroa literally translates to a ‘low hill’) he created a unique story.
Seeing their town’s history immortalised in paint struck a real chord with the Paeroa community. It felt like the whole town turned out for the grand unveiling of the mural on Saturday 6th May, as well as visitors from as far afield as Rotorua and Motiti Island in Tauranga. After speeches, a moving performance by a kapa haka group and a drone selfie of everyone in front of the mural, Mr G set about signing everything from gumboots (a very popular choice) to walkers!
It seems art really can bring a community together. “It is awesome that I get to provide a bit of happiness and pride and by doing what I love most: making art,” says Mr G.