A planned mural celebrating diversity in the Waitaki district has all the elements it needs apart from one — a location.
The Waitaki District Youth Council is on the hunt for a wall in central Oamaru that local artists can use as a canvas to paint the mural during Youth Week next month.
Youth council chairman Ethan Reille said two potential sites had fallen through, but youth councillors were determined to bring the mural, celebrating LGBTTQIA+ , youth, elderly, those with disabilities, Maori, Pasifika, and other cultural community groups, to life.
‘‘It’s also an opportunity to make everyone feel safe, but to recognise community groups that aren’t heard as much as other parts of the community, and to just embrace the diversity we have here in Waitaki is really important — what better way to do that than Youth Week,’’ Ethan said.
The project has been in the pipeline since December, when the youth council’s proposal to paint the Ouse St roundabout in rainbow colours to support Waitaki’s LGBTTQIA+ community was turned down by Waitaki district councillors.
Youth councillors were disappointed at the result, until North Otago Youth Centre manager Amanda Acheson suggested turning the project into a mural. Ethan said it became clear the mural, supported by the Waitaki District Council, Stronger Waitaki and the youth centre, needed to be created quickly.
‘‘I think as a youth council, and as a district, we have an obligation to be representing those community groups,’’ Ethan said.
‘‘This is a way that we can do that quite efficiently and effectively but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t space for a rainbow crossing, or roundabout, in the future.’’
The mural will be painted by local artists Luzette Crossan, Matthew Wicks, Dean Raybould, Dave Kingan, Al Bell and Philina den Dulk.
Young people are being encouraged to submit designs — anything from drawings to poetry — focusing on the national Youth Week theme, ‘‘our voices matter and we deserve to be heard’’.
Aspiring young artists will have the opportunity to paint alongside the artists.
Everyone had been really enthusiastic about the project and it was a good opportunity to bring a cross section of the community together.
It was important Oamaru had a space where minority groups could be celebrated and take pride in, Ethan said.
‘‘There [are] young people really stepping up and a lot of people are getting really confident in themselves and starting to figure out who they identify as.
‘‘Especially for the rainbow community, this is an opportunity to recognise them and their bravery for standing up and letting people know who they are.’’
Any building owners who had a suitable wall for the mural should contact Ethan by calling 020 419-52177, or emailing email@example.com. Any young people wanting to contribute designs to the mural should email the same address from next week.