To date there are 30 murals around the town depicting the history of the district. See the weblink below to view the murals online and read the history of the project. In 2006 the Horowhenua District council submitted a successful application to the Creative Places Trust.
Creative Places Award Application
The Foxton Mural project is significant in that it was able to bring art into the public sphere. Due to the size, cost, and work involved in creating a mural, this project has required a committed community development approach. Initiated from an idea and adopted by members of the Foxton community, this project has taken over ten years to support the vision of the idea through to its conclusion, and in doing so, has fostered a sense of identity and pride for the wider community and the Horowhenua District.
The many murals, 30 have been completed over a period of 14 years, give a very visual reflection of early Foxton history. Foxton now is able to share and reflect on its heritage in this art form. It could be called one of New Zealand’s largest permanent outdoor art galleries, it depicts the early history. The many murals capture a distinct period in Foxton’s growth as a township at the turn of the century showing the beginnings of an industrial township, relationship building between the local Iwi and the early settlers, the contribution of the flax (harakeke) industry to rope making in New Zealand, the effects of flooding, fire and war on the community’s identity, motorization and commerce and horticulture. It has proved to be a very positive venture and is now a must see tourist attraction of the District.
The good idea became a reality when in1992 a group of enthusiasts formed the Foxton Murals Committee with the aim of painting murals with a historic theme depicting Foxton’s historical past.
With the support of the sponsors and the local residents there are now over thirty murals available for viewing.
Spin –offs from the project have been – employment for local artists. A noticeable lack of graffiti in the town supporting the crime prevention strategy through the environment design aspect of generating a raised level of awareness and pride within the district reflecting our community and heritage. Increased tourism by adding to the many attractions available to visitors to our district.
The murals have been placed throughout the community, sides of buildings, fences, walls are used as the canvas, situated on the main street, on sides of buildings, in places of easy visual display, capturing the attention of pedestrian as well as motorists, a open air gallery connecting the past with the present.
Why it Happened
The Foxton Murals Committee had the collective vision of acknowledging the importance of heritage and culture, of finding a creative medium that reflected back to the community a pictorial accolade to the early history of their township. The murals have reflected to all who view them the growth of a town, through the establishment of the wharf and rail access, the flax industry, relationship building with local Maori, the building of early churches, horticultural growth through early Chinese settlement within the area, the impact of floods, fire, and the historical impact of First World War on the community. By understanding and acknowledging that this initiative would create an attraction to aid in generating growth for our district through the cultural tourism industry.
Level of arts/culture innovation
When people work together as has happened in bringing the Foxton Mural project to reality through the creation of these murals, they interact through participation and feedback with a committee, with sponsors, fellow muralists, and the community at-large. Each interaction presents a different set of challenges and opportunities, requiring the development of a wide range of skills-from traditional drawing and colour mixing to teamwork, collective decision making, consultation, organisation through fundraising and leadership.
Murals are excellent catalysts for community awareness raising, the development and participation in creating murals challenge and affirm on a variety of levels, and provide a unique opportunity for members of a community to actively participate in a process that enhances their community. In addition, the impact of healthy relationships between members from a community connected by a common goal foster a sense of identity and connection as well as acknowledging the capabilities as artists and activists.
Contribution to councils long –term strategy and direction
The Strategic Plan vision under the Horowhenua District Council’s theme of Community Development, anticipates the district will have : “Individual communities with unique characteristics which complement the District.”
Within such a vision the Horowhenua District Council have set strategy to promote district identity through communication of the strengths and achievements to both external and internal audiences.
Consistent with Horowhenua District Council’s vision of being the best rural lifestyle district in New Zealand, the focus is on maintaining and enhancing the richness of the district’s rural diversity and character, with reference to its beaches, coastal lowland flora, fauna, Maori culture and heritage, settlements and water ways, rivers and streams.
With the recognition of the unique and special village characteristics of many of the existing smaller settlement’s, Foxton and Foxton Beach communities are identified both as ecologically and environmentally and historically unique in their characteristics of being coastal settlements with a river access. Such heritage is worthy of promotion. Horowhenua District Council through the goals of Economic Activity have foreseen the importance of raising the profile of the Horowhenua through promotion of heritage sites, visualization of the past through the medium of the Foxton Mural Project has and will continue to aid the district to develop its Cultural Tourism industry.