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This page describes the work undertaken for $1.2 million worth of improvements to the Porirua railway station and has articles and video of the artists describing their work. These art works and photographic panels feature in the subway, ramps and stairs from the station platform. The upgrade was completed in early March 2011 and still has the wow factor today, delighting locals and visitors alike.

Contents of this page

Project wins 'Golden Foot Award'

The project has been awarded the 'Golden Foot Award' for the Best Walking Project, by Living Streets Aotearoa in February 2012. Read our Media Release (18KB pdf) describing the award and view the video below showing the Mayor Nick Leggett and Wellington Regional Councillor Barbara Donaldson displaying the award.

Description of the project

Kiwi Rail carried out the works funded largely by Greater Wellington Regional Council, including resurfacing the station platform and upgrading the bus shelter, subway, lighting and fencing.

The station was open while the work was going on so people were still able to catch trains and buses as usual. Approximately 1.3 million passenger journeys are made from Porirua Station each year.

New lights have been installed in the subway to showcase almost 50 new panels showing over 100 stunning photographs that highlight Porirua’s natural values and strong art talent by local photographers.

Photographs for the panels were mainly sourced from members of the local Kapiti Camera Club, based in Red Barn within Gear Homestead grounds. The photo contributors were; Thomas Bonderf, David Driver, Denise Gandy, Don Laing, Neil Mackenzie, Geoff Marshall, Bob Maysmor, Taffy A Parry, Tim Smith and Mark Tantrum.


Read our stories about the artists below.

Railway Station Upgrade - South Wall.

View the image titles and their photographers on the following pdf files:

The photo panels showcase works by local photographers plus painted art panels at the ramp and stairs depicting local history.

The tale of two murals

The tale of Maara Roa and new age Dorothy are the concepts behind (24) Xoe Hall’s two murals at the Porirua railway station. The murals are 15 metres wide and 2 metres high.

Xoe Hall with her mural.
Zoe Hall's beautiful Maaroa.

The Wellington muralist describes her first mural, Maara Roa as a well known Porirua legend about a woman with a long garden, full of vegetables and fruit which she shared with everyone.

Porirua is multicultural and hospitable to everyone who lives, studies and works in the region. Ms Hall believes Maara, is the perfect representation for Porirua. She is Porirua, her hair is the sea where the taniwha swims and Captain Cook explores, her cloak turns into the land and harbour where Kupe is the sun shining over the land and Te Rauparaha watches over.

Her second mural depicts a new age Dorothy showing the more alternative side to Porirua, like in the film ‘wizard of oz ‘Dorothy’s been traveling the world and has decided to tap her little red cowboy boots together and catch the bus home to Porirua.

Working alongside other artists on the station project was a great experience which Ms Hall says, “Was great to all work as a team but individually at the same time, amazingly talented good people that I am very happy to have met, and so close to home.”

Ms Hall resides in Plimmerton and grew up on a farm in Pauatahanui.

She describes her art as a mixture of pop, pop surrealism as well as using multi media such as glitter, leather etc. She adds, “Glad to see that Porirua is getting the love, and I really appreciate being involved in this amazing project.”

Birds on a Train

A tribute to the wildlife of Porirua Harbour and Pauatahanui inlet featuring local birdlife is the theme behind artist Sue Smales' two large murals.

Artist Sue Smales with her mural.
Sue Smales in front of one of her murals, ' birds in a carriage'.

Ms Smales paints a quirky and comical setting which will make people smile and laugh as they view the birdlife, different types of local birds can be seen as passengers sitting in carriages.

The two murals are located on each side of the steps that go up to the platform from the station’s underground passage.

The murals are 3.5 metres x 2.2 approx, each. Ms Smales says, “Working on such a large scale is something I have not done before and, I love it! I would happily do it again. It is much more forgiving of mistakes as things are generally viewed from a distance, and you can be very expressive with your brush strokes.”

She adds, “I have achieved what I wanted and working with the other artist has been great, feedback is always healthy when you are painting and it has been a wonderful experience to see each artist’s interpretation of the brief (mural) and their style of painting

Ms Smales has an art degree, is a curator and operates and owns a Gallery. She has thirty five years experience painting in all mediums.

Snapshots at Porirua train station

A kapa haka group and a ballerina are just two of the many images that greet users on their way to catch a train or bus.

Chris's Snapshots mural.
Chris Ulutupu's alternative photo option.

Artist Christopher Ulutupu, 23 ,has painted a mural containing snapshots of different scenes that catch the commuter's eye along the north ramp access way.

Ulutupu says, "I see commuters, students taking photos using their mobiles as they wait for their trains and buses. I have painted scenarios which can be used as a backdrop for anyone wanting to take a snapshot of themselves in the different variety of settings.

I wanted people to interact with the scenes in the mural, something different for commuters to see and participate with their mobile phones.

The concept is ‘leaving your mark as an alternative to graffiti.’

Working alongside other artists was a great experience being able to do something for friends and family and the community that is accessible to all is good."

A graduate of Performance Design, he believes that in this generation, we need to be multiskilled; he adds, “Set design is great for me because it has allowed me to work as a painter, a film set designer as well as working in theatre although times can be tough, financially it is not viable to concentrate on just art.

Local tale of the Wheke

The legend of the Wheke (octopus) is the theme behind artist Tupe Papali’i’s mural.

Tupe at work on her mural.
Tupe Papali'i in the studio putting in the finishing touches.

Maori legend tells the tale of the Wheke devouring all the seafood in local coastal waters, so the great Kupe decided to kill it.

He dropped his whanau on Mana Island and hunted Wheke.

Papali’i 31 say’s, “It’s a story based on native New Zealand landscapes and animals combined with the legend I specialise in painting and have had a couple of exhibitions as well as painting murals in the Porirua area.”

Work on the mural was done off site so most of the work was completed on the floor so for Papali’i viewing the mural vertically was a pleasant surprise.

“I usually enlarge my drawings using a projector but this time I drew it free hand with chalk on the end of a stick which was fun while I walked over the boards.”

Working along side other artists was a great experience. She adds, “I am very proud to have been given the opportunity to create work in my home town.“

The newly-wed artist and husband took some wedding pics in front of her art works.

A family affair

A taniwha, an albatross and boxes floating, are two images on a mural you see as you stroll through the Porirua railway station.

Muralist Rudy Castaneda Lopez collaborated with Whitiriea art student Hiriaki Katsumata on the art works. They incorporated images on themes, community, local heroes, local legends and dreamscapes.

Mr Lopez believes the boxes floating gives an impression of a dreamscape idea; all of the boxes suggest contemporary Porirua whereas, the legend is the taniwha so the boxes reflect the community or local heroes.

The project was a family affair with Lopez’s two sons assisting him on the project, he says, “most of the brush on board work was done by my son Issac (20) a tattoo artist, who did a fantastic job as did my younger son Ben (10) who helped out too.

Rudy with sons and Hiriake at the studio.
Rudy with sons and Hiriake at the studio.

He became involved in the project, working with the Council on an earlier project.

Artists in the project used a local studio to paint their murals onto boards before being fitted into spaces at the station which worked well for the artists.

Artist Ranga Tuhi was instrumental in the sense that he could digitise the art and put them back in the spaces at the station digitally which made it easier to sell the idea, rather than look at drawings.

Mr Lopez is a Mexican-American of mixed Mayo Indian and Spanish extraction. He is the programme manager visual arts and design, lecturer in drawing, painting, contextual studies and art history at Whitirirea Community Polytechnic.

Local Legends Inspire

Awarua the flying taniwha and Rereroa the albatross are two creatures in local folklore painted in artworks painted by Hideaki Katsumada (24) in collaboration with muralist, Rudy Castaneda Lopez.

Hideaki Katsumata next to his mural showing Rereroa the albatross.
Hideaki poses with Rereroa the albatross.

Katsumada’s love of legends and folklore inspired him to work on the tale of Rereroa the albatross who taught Awarua the taniwha, how to fly, the two communicating covering the areas of dreamscape and community.

In his experience he has never worked on such a large scale mural before as he normally paints or draws on A3 or A4 sizes, Rudy Whitehead-Lopez says, “Hireaki is a second year student who came up with the concept of the taniwha and although he has always worked very small, almost jewel like, this was new for him and I knew it would challenge him.”

He arrived to New Zealand as an international student, graduated from high school and then moved to Wellington to study a Bachelor of Applied Arts at Whitiriea Community Polytechnic.

When asked how he thinks the project went, he replied, “I just want to say thank you, to everyone for supporting me and giving me an opportunity to work on the big project”.

Legends of Porirua

Ruth Robertson working on her mural. Maori legends are the theme behind artist Ruth Robertson’s mural (pictured left).

Rangi the sky parent and Papa the earth mother are two Maori gods depicted in her mural as well as state houses and other figures from Maori folklore.

Robertson painted part of her mural at Elim church then finished her works at the studio says, "I wanted to paint big figures because the area I put my artworks on was long and triangular so I painted large figures that were horizontal, something that took your eyes through".

When asked about working with the other artists she replied, “It was really nice and lovely to meet all the other artists, there were a few bumps along the way but it was great”.

Robertson was born in Stratford and grew up in Featherston.

She moved to Wellington with her partner and family in 2009 after a stint in the South Island and loves Wellington particularly Porirua.

She is currently studying art at Whitiriea Polytechnic and is in her final year.

With the mural completed she says, "If I could do it again, I would not have it sealed before they went up! A metre was shaved off the works which was a bit traumatic but we managed to fix that, it was a great project to be involved in".

Nurturing Mothers of Porirua

Life-size portraits of pacific women as guardians of the city are the focal points of local artist Ian Taylor’s mural.

Ian Taylor with his Pacific guardians.
Ian Taylor working on his mural.

I had recently completed a mural project in Canons Creek where I painted seven portraits of unsung heroes, all pacific men from different islands. When I was approached me about this project I wanted to do something for the women of Porirua, the strength behind the men.”

Taylor believes he achieved what he wanted in his mural although in hindsight he could have worked it a bit more, he says, “Ruth and I painted the majority of our murals at Elim church which was great but there were time constraints therefore the work was time-consuming at times”.

Taylor is a retired teacher and is studying a degree in ‘Drug and Alcohol counselling’.

He moved with his wife (Ruth Robertson) and children from the South Island in 2009, and resides in Titahi Bay.

Porirua railway station upgrade vibrant with colour

Kupe’s giant waka (voyaging canoe) greets users as they enter the east ramp into Porirua’s railway station.

The waka is part of a mural depicting the regions history, painted by local artist Ranga Tuhi.

Ranga Tuhi and art student assistant Jo Cringle.
Ranga Tuhi collaborates with Jo Cringle.

Tuhi’s mural begins with whales and the land before man's arrival. It then depicts the first man, Kupe arriving by waka, who gave Porirua its name as well as naming Mana Island as he travelled the region. He came here for a new beginning due to his people feuding at home in Hawaii.

Captain Cook followed, with him came technology, he too was searching for a new beginning.

Tuhi says, “It was the Tahitians who brought Cook here, they called New Zealand the land of birds which is significant in the mural.”

A secondary theme is segmented into the composition are of iconic images pertaining to Porirua’s history.

Mr Tuhi is of Tainiu descent and comes from a lineage of master carvers.

He has a degree in Bachelor of Design and majors in graphic design.

He says, “It’s the biggest mural I’ve worked on, at first it was a challenge but gradually it became cool and enjoyable.” He adds, “Working together with other artists on the project who are likeminded with different styles has been good.”

Artist on the Move

Jo Cringle working on a mural. Jo Cringle 27 is a graduate of fine arts who collaborated with artist Runga Tuhi on his mural project.

Ms Cringle (pictured left, hard at work) believes the experience was great, enjoying the community aspect and felt good to be involved in such a positive endeavor, where enthusiasm from the Council, the artists and the local community was clearly evident.

Ms Cringle says, “I am grateful for this; it has initiated a wicked network of artists and members of the Porirua community, most of whom I’m sure I’ll meet again.

I am looking to get work in the set painting department on the Hobbit when work gears up which I’m really exited about. I'd say this mural project, being included in my portfolio, definitely would have contributed to my interview going as successfully as it did a few weeks back.”

She adds, “It was a great experience working with Runga, I felt we worked well together, remained reasonably level in creative decisions, and seemed to complement each other in our different styles. He taught me the importance of solid draftsmanship, thorough planning and processes, and organised work areas, and taught me a lot about traditional Maori art and Legend. The fact he was project manager meant I was kept well informed of what was going on and it was helpful to get insight into the business and logistical side of such projects. We talked a lot about our cultural backgrounds, past experiences, and views on life and this I think was the most enriching part of the project, with the painting itself almost symbolic of our collaboration within a cultural context - the land in common, both feeling a spiritual connection to it. Runga's an inspiring guy.”

Locals who often poked their heads in and came to meet the artists were all supportive although some admittedly skeptical as to how successful it would be at stopping tagging.

One can only hope that the art works are warmly embraced and appreciated by the people of Porirua as well as visitors for years to come.

Muralist giving back

Artist Tracey Waters painting her mural. Asteroids planets and spaceships are a few examples of animated images that greet users entering the north ramp side of the station.

A monorail is central in the artworks which include Porirua landmarks, iconic local people personal caricatures as well as the regions wildlife and history.

Artist Tracy Waters murals have a futuristic theme with the focus on transport.

“I wanted people to feel as if they are going on a journey visually as they arrive and see the murals, it’s for the young and young at heart, as a designer and artist it is about actual space, planting things in shape and colour, working out how you’re going to make the work aesthetically pleasing to blend the colours to get the right mix.”

Ms Waters (pictured left checking her mural) was born and raised in Titahi Bay, a former Porirua city councillor; she has a diverse array of skills and a passion for the local environment and community that come to life through her artworks.

She adds, "it’s about giving back to the community, while I’m on that point I want to thank Pete’s Emporium for the use of their premises for the last three months to paint the murals which I’m very thankful for.”

(Pete’s emporium have bought the former bodyworks building located at Lyttelton Avenue Porirua).



Stories for this page have been written by Andrew Finau, Freelance Journalist. Photos by Trevor Mason.

Videos for this page were filmed and produced by local resident Angus Ward.

History of Porirua Railway Station

Read the history of Porirua Railway Station and learn about the three station buildings on the site since the railway line was opened in 1885.

Feedback invited

Have you seen the murals? We'd love to know what you think!

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