Not Out Tikanga Mural

Street art has its roots in the gritty streets of New York City during the 60’s and 70’s and was where the term graffiti first became prominent. Street art has seen resurgence as of late, in particular with artists such as Banksy who are able to depict some powerful messages through the medium of street art.  ‘Tagging’ the least appreciated form of this art is the reason that street art is often viewed with negative connotations; however, in recent times there has been a movement to utilise the bland unadorned canvases of the streets and allow young people to express themselves through this medium.

With this in mind, a mural has been commissioned by the Henderson Local Board who wanted to contribute towards the New Zealand Smokefree 2025 goal. The mural was seen as a way to announce the beginning of the2025 journey and the local initiative also sits alongside the wider Auckland city Smokefree policy.

The honour of designing the art work was handed to The Kakano Youth Arts Collective made up of predominately Māori and pacific youth. Based at Corban's Estate Art Centre, Kākano is a group of talented West Auckland youths with huge artistic potential. Their latest artwork is part of twenty-three large murals that are going up as part of The Henderson Youth Art Project (HYAP), a joint initiative between Auckland Council, Unitec and The Kakano Youth Arts Collective. The venture is part of a wider strategy to involve the youth to reduce unwanted graffiti and to take pride in the community they live in.

The art work itself has a definite Westie feel. Pictured is the Corban Winery Estate with flax bushes and tūī which are often seen in and around the streams of Henderson. One of the young artists, Nathan Cole (2nd from the left), said “some of the artists are smokers too but we wanted to give the message that smoking doesn’t just harm the body, it also damages the environment”. Nathan wants smokers to be more aware of where they throw their cigarette butts.  

The tag line ‘not our tikanga’ is borrowed from Hāpai te Hauora, part of a national tobacco advocacy group. Tikanga is a Māori concept meaning the traditional and correct way of doing things. The mural unveiling has coincided with World Smoke Free Day and the message is loud and clear. Smoking is not part of our tradition, nor should it be part of our future.