Famed street artist ‘Mr. G’ Graham Hoete and his lovely kairoro (wife and beloved) ‘Mrs G.’ Milly Hoete, have received funding from Te Puni Kokiri to bring the Tumanako project to life. Tumanako means hope. Mr.G is heading to 6 places in Aotearoa to share his message of Tumanako (Hope) through rangatahi (youth) led murals. Westport is lucky to be the first recipient of this awesome mahi (work). Mr.G came in November to hui (meet) with Westport Kawatiri’s youth to discuss what they’d like to see on our community mural, what’s important to them and what hope looks like in their eyes.

Mr. G openly discusses going through tough mental health stages. Suffering through depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts in his life and discovering that Tumanako (hope) was one of the things that helped him through. These youth led projects are a way to encourage that healthy conversation of mental health and finding hope through those times.

The unveiling on Friday was a wonderful event. Plenty of our hapori (community) were down at the Skatepark where the mural was chosen to go. With the wonderful addition of the new pump track, managed by Buller Cycling Club, we can see the creation of a youth space here. A great location for this new mural to stand. Thanks to Nuku, Youth Voice, Te Ha O Kawatiri and Buller REAP for their hospitality and awesome community hangi that was held following the blessing of this mural by Mana Whenua (Māori people of the land), Ngati Waewae’s Te Rua Mason. Waiata (singing) could be heard far and wide as Mr. and Mrs. G received gifted pounamu (greenstone) necklaces as our thanks. Mayor Jamie Cleine was also there to enjoy this moment, and spoke again of the community’s gratitude to such an uplifting event that went towards our growing rangatahi (youth). More on the reveal of the project below.

Head to ‘Mr G Hoete Art’ page on FB to see this awesome mural coming to life!



Reveal of Tūmanako Project

 The unveiling on Paraire Friday was a well-attended celebration of the mahi done by the rangatahi, tamariki, and whanau from Westport Kawatiri, working alongside Graham Hoete, aka Mr G, over the week. The weather was perfect and Nuku had set up the kia tent under the trees which formed a welcoming circle of seats so everyone was able to join in freely.


100 – 120 people attended the event. The ceremony opened with a waiata led by Kaiwhakataki Te Rua Mason, followed by a karakia.

Mr G explained that he’d listened to the stories shared by the kaumatua from local hāpu & iw and rangatahi and tamariki from Buller High School, North School, Nuku, South School, St Canices and Youth Voice. Taking those stories Mr G explained he has created a mural that reflects the stories of the community and what is important to rangatahi, so whenever they visit the mural they’ll find strength, hope, and pride in their artwork and remember what they learnt that will get them through the tough times. The mural was funded by Te Puni Kōkiri, from the Ministry of Māori Development.

After Te Rua Mason blessed the mural, Kaumatua Karena Tuwhakaeclark and Whaea Marea Casey presented Mr G and Milly with local pounamu pendants. The unexpected gift brought tears to their eyes “This is very special to me, thank you” said Mr G after being presented with his pendant.

 Milly and Mr G thanked everyone for making them feel so welcome, for the assistance they received from the local community, Nuku and Youth Voice and the support from Buller REAP in helping the project go so smoothly behind the scenes, from water blasting the skate park walls clean in the beginning to taking all the rubbish away at the end. Milly & Mr G said they met such great people while staying here, had lots of laughs, and made many good memories.

Mayor Jamie Cleine thanked Mr G & Milly on behalf of the community for choosing Kawatiri and making the skatepark and the playground even more of a place for all to enjoy.

There was a hāngi after the official ceremony, where everyone was served as much delicious kai – chicken, stuffing, cabbage, potatoes, pumpkin – to eat as they could possibly fit in their stomachs. Many went back for second and third helpings. There was much laughter and chatting as people sat on the grass eating and sharing stories of the week and getting to know each other more.

Everybody was impressed with the mural – it’s magnificence, it’s ability to capture the local stories, and the beautiful artwork. The compliments and pride were apparent from everyone that participated in creating and crafting the mural – from the stories shared two weeks ago, those that helped paint the mural through to those that provided shelter, transport, kai and support during the week were impressed and happy with the result. Those that couldn’t make it on Friday have visited the mural since and have shared their positive responses. 

 There was such a feeling of celebration and coming together of people from the community. It was a very special event that will have a positive benefit for the community now and in the future.