Local Govt | National News Video | Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Search


Johnson Witehira – hot property on the streets of Wellington

Johnson Witehira – hot property on the streets of Wellington

Johnson and artwork

Johnson Witehira’s artwork hits the streets of Wellington for the second time this year. This time Witehira, supported by the Wellington City Council, is bringing Waituhi: a street art project, to this year’s Matariki festivities – gracing the wall of Opera House Lane.

For Johnson this project is another chance to bring something Māori into the urban landscape. “Often I find myself standing on a Wellington street and I’ll be hard pressed to see anything Māori. Street art is a great way to reach the public and being able to put my art out there means I can bring it to the people.”

The Land of Tara, is the latest exhibition to appear in the Courtenay Place light boxes. Later this month Johnson will be working with the Wellington City Gallery to create a typographic artwork for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. Then he’ll be producing works for The New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, in response to Hone Tuwhare's poem, We Who live in Darkness. Wellington’s Lux Festival has commissioned Johnson to produce an artwork to be projected on a huge scale. Recently, his work was also displayed in Times Square on 34 billboards across three days.

All up, Witehira has five different projects running during July and August in Wellington.

“His work is high impact, accessible and proudly asserts our cultural history,” says Katie Taylor-Duke, Arts Advisor for the Council. “Witehira’s proposal for Waituhi was a thoughtful interpretation of the brief. He clearly addressed the project objectives and came up with a design that responded to the site – both to its geographical past and to its contemporary evolution as a busy laneway.”

Before working on the design concept Johnson spoke to local Māori authority Liz Melish on her thoughts about the site, its significance to Taranaki Whanui ki te upoko o te Ika, and the themes.

“My design for this project synthesizes ideas from the three key themes – the site and its significance, matariki and kaitiakitanga – into a captivating visual narrative.”

Opera House Lane was identified as a good site for the mural because it has an interesting past – once part of the shoreline that bordered Te Aro Pā and a place for gathering kai (food) for local iwi. It’s also prone to graffiti, and has been undergoing an upgrade to make it safer and more accessible.

This is the first time a street art component has been included as part of the Matariki festival. The aim of the project is to take the festivities and theme of Matariki to a wider audience – beyond the spaces of the galleries, to enliven a culturally rich part of the city with a new artwork that may challenge or humour viewers and that will give them a sense of pride in the spaces they occupy.

“I’m a huge fan of a number of street artists including Banksy, Shepard Fairey and Aotearoa’s own, Askew1. Though I create the design, the work will come together with the help from many people including other artists and friends, and those behind the scenes at council who will help with the production. Maybe it’s a Māori thing, or being part of a big family, but I like working like this. You never feel like all the pressure is on you because there is so much support.”

Johnson begins work on Waituhi in Opera House Lane starting 28 June, when Pleiades – the Seven Sisters constellation – is visible.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Minister of Finance: Plan Shows $100 Billion Infrastructure Projects

Finance Minister Bill English has today launched the Government’s Ten Year Capital Intentions Plan (CIP) which shows a pipeline of $100.9 billion worth of infrastructure projects over the next decade. More>>


Werewolf: Safe Landings Gordon Campbell on the safety challenge to the Wellington runway extension.

The safety-related legal challenge revolves around the size of the 90 metre long Runway End Safety Area (RESA) being proposed for the runway extension. More>>


Environment Commissioner: We Need To Work Together On Climate Change And Farming

“The debate around agricultural emissions and the ETS has been polarised for too long,” said the Commissioner. “But the ETS is not the only way forward – there are other things that can be done.” More>>


NZ Super Fund: Seeking To Put A Market Price On Climate Change

Oct. 19 (BusinessDesk) - The New Zealand Superannuation Fund says it will devise a set of rules to assess investment winners and losers under climate change, a strategy that could rule out fossil fuels or producers such as current portfolio member Exxon ... More>>


Rejuvenation: Parata Will Not Contest 2017 Election

Education Minister and National List MP Hekia Parata has today announced that she will not be contesting the next election. She advised the Prime Minister of her decision earlier this year. More>>

Prisons Grow: Government Approves Plans For Increased Prison Capacity

Despite significant progress in reducing crime the number of prisoners has increased faster than projected. This is because the proportion of offenders charged with serious crimes has risen, meaning more people are being remanded in custody and serving more of their sentences in prison. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Plastic Bag Activism, And Street Harassment

Amusing to see the Act Party experiencing another outbreak of young fogey-ism. What has aroused the ire of Act Leader David Seymour this time is the introduction of a Greens private members bill to the ballot process, calling for a 15 cents levy on plastic bags to reduce pollution. More>>


Unclear Weapons: US Navy Ship Cleared To Visit NZ For Navy's 75th

United States Navy ship, the USS Sampson, has been given clearance to visit New Zealand next month by Prime Minister John Key... “The process for considering the visit by the USS Sampson is the same as that used for all ships attending the International Naval Review." More>>


Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news