Creative . . . Artist Bruce Mahalski stands beside the mural of native birds that he created at Te Pakihi o Maru School last week. PHOTOS: KAYLA HODGE

An incredible ‘‘taonga’’ has been bestowed upon Te Pakihi o Maru School.

A bright and creative mural has been painted on a wall in the Oamaru primary school’s playground. It is a collaboration between the school and Dunedin artist Bruce Mahalski.

The mural is of native birds — including korora, tui, piwakawaka, kereru, ruru, and toroa — that represent the names of the classrooms.

Principal Stacey Honeywill said the mural was ‘‘phenomenal’’.

‘‘It’s brightened up our playground to no end really,’’ Mrs Honeywill said.

The pupils learnt about Mr Mahalski’s work when it was exhibited at the Forrester Gallery earlier this year, and then created their own murals based on his work.

The mural representing classrooms at the school.

Mr Mahalski painted the mural last week and the pupils were excited to watch him work in person.

‘‘The children just love it. They were enthralled with the whole process and every day as the mural changed, he had tamariki asking him questions all the time,’’ Mrs Honeywill said.

Mr Mahalski said he loved creating the mural, especially the owl, and the children being intrigued by him was a ‘‘hilarious’’ bonus.

‘‘I got here on Monday and all these kids were going, ‘It’s Bruce Mahalski’ — it was pretty weird. I’ve never had that before,’’ he said.

The mural partnership began when Forrester Gallery staff contacted Mrs Honeywill saying Mr Mahalski had offered to donate his time to a local school to paint a mural for them.

Mrs Honeywill also applied for funding from the Creative Communities Scheme, through the Waitaki District Council to create the mural.