New Zealand Diary: Katikati

Exploring Katikati, the town of murals, poetry and birds…

DAY 8, DECEMBER 21, 2017

When you travel thousands of kilometres in four weeks, you can‘t help but see many impressions only in passing.
This, for example, was a scene from Coromandel Forest Park seen from the car on our way to the Bay of Plenty.

On the way in Waihi we made a discovery. After having coffee and a muffin at the Kava Café, we found a real German bakery!
Of course, we immediately bought bread for the next day and there were so many delicious things there that I would have loved to buy the shop empty.

We had a few words with the owner, a German expatriate, but the shop was so full that we didn’t bother him any further.

My sister caught me carrying my loaf of bread while I was admiring this sign:

Sadly, they passed their lease and bakery to other people. „The German Bakery ceases to be, with us following yet another dream.“

We ended up in Katikati because it is on the right track and at the right distance from Matamata, where we had an important appointment one day later…
We didn’t really know anything about the place. I think my sister had read that the Bay of Plenty, on which Katikati is situated, could be interesting for bird watching. We only learned everything else when we were there.
The first thing we did was go to the tourist information office to get suggestions on what to do in Katikati.
There we found out that this town is art crazy 🙂

Katikati is known as New Zealand’s Mural Town – more on that later – but that is not all there is to see. They have a Haiku Pathway, a Bird Walk, and lots of other open-air art. They town is one big open-air art gallery. There are about 75+ pieces of public art.

I have to warn you: we looked at almost all of it, and I’m going to share many photos…

I hope it’s okay if I quote from the brochures and guides. Somehow it doesn’t make sense to „rephrase“ the explanations of the artworks (and my English is probably not that good either).

We started our tour with the Haiku Pathway, a Millenium Project that is supposed to be an „enduring gift to future generations“. The haiku have been inscribed onto river boulders. The Pathway is situated in a beautiful, peaceful park next to the Uretara river.

Haiku is a traditional Japanese poetic form that is now widely used throughout the world. Japanese haiku usually consist of three word groups of 5 – 7 – 5 syllables.

Today, Haiku in English oder in other languages have different rules and styles. But they still generally contain a seasonal reference.

„Haiku are not intellectual thoughts; they are moments – what is happening now.

Haiku can contrast and compare two images, which appeal to one or more of the five senses.“

„Haiku use ordinary language to show the extraordinary.“

„The best haiku will reward repeated readings, revealing more each time.“

The Haiku Pathway authors come from different countries and some of them are award-winning poets.

This is „Humphrey“, a chainsaw sculpture of the sea elephant who visited the Bay of Plenty from 1984 to 1989. The sculptor, Neville Warner, created this piece of art from a macrocarpa log in 1996/1997.

The Bird Walk is another walk that follows the Uretara river. It is dedicated to the late Brian Chudleigh, a bird photographer, native wildlife enthusiast and conservationist. The river-side walk offers opportunities for bird-spotting as well as sculptures of native birds.

Teach your children and grandchildren the value of our wildlife and teach them to tread lightly on the world. In New Zealand there are birds that are not found anywhere else in the world. Let’s help them survive.
– Brian Chudleigh

Katja and the 4.2 m Moa! Interesting experience for me and my bird phobia.
The sculpture is life size and was made by Sam Dunlop.

Karearea, sculpture by Marcel Zwezerijnen (Karearea = New Zealand falcon)

Pied Shag. Sculptor: Marcel Zwezerijnen

In between we took a short „art break“, washed all of our clothes, and drove to the Bay of Plenty to see the sea and even more birds – Unfortunately the sea was not there…

The other kind of selfie 😉 Proof that I was there…

And after this nature spectacle, we went to see the famous murals.

The idea was born in the late eighties, in a time of economic decline, with the aim of bringing more people back to the town and making it interesting for tourists. The inspiration for the murals came from a short visit to the town of Chemainus, in Canada, by one of Katikati’s citizens and member of its art group.

„A Pioneer Kitchen: A suffrage Centennial Project by the women of Katikati. It celebrates New Zealand gaining the right to vote in 1893. It features women’s role as the heart of the family. The kitchen was then the focus of her activities.“ Artist: Pat Williams.

„Overload: Service cars were the only public transport in early Katikati. Here wer see Les Hume’s record load as he piled 21 people in at Athenree to help them get to Waihi.“ Artist: Peter Nicholson.

„Reverend Katterns‘ Ostriches: To supplement his stipend the Anglican Vicar farmed ostriches from 1897. Their frequent escapes are recorded in this mural.“ Artist: Malcolm Pitkeathly

„Jimmy Culpan: Jimmy and his packhorses. As a young man he took mail and supplies to the bush camps working in the hills behind Katikati.“ Artist: Beverly Ray.

„Sunday in a Bush Camp: Kauri was felled locally in the 1920s and 1930s. Crude camps were set up in the bush for the men and sometimes their families. This mural shows the men working at their camp in the bush and relaxing on their day off.“ Artist: Anne de Silva.

„The Future Laid in the Past. Remembering & Valuing the Past. Supporting & Cherishing the Future.“ Artist: John Ferguson with contributing Katikati farms.

„Main Street: Katikati’s main street as it was around 1935-40.“ Artist: Peter Cramond.

We had dinner at the Garden Bar of the Talisman Hotel, which has been around in one form or another for 140 years.
Here, too, we found a mural.