Katikati Open-Air Art (KOAA) was formed in 1989 after a public meeting to see how the town of Katikati could promote itself. Katikati, at that time in its history was going through a tough time, the share market had crashed the year before, and was now hurting hard, the kiwifruit industry which had become the main industry of the local area was in crisis, the threat of a by-pass was being looked at and there were up to 32 empty businesses in the town. Katikati needed a major boost.
The driving force behind it all was a group of volunteers inspired by a vision of a small town called Chemainus, on Vancouver Island in Canada. This was a small town that had been through a similar situation that Katikati was going through. To make this happen, Katikati was fortunate to have an inspiring motivator in the form of its local Art teacher from the College, June Carlton. She was to become the project manager and probably the main driving force behind the whole idea of making Katikati New Zealand’s Mural town.
The first mural to be produced in 1990 was the “Waitekohe School”. The artworks kept on appearing and by the end of 1996, 21 works had been completed and still more were in the pipeline.
1996 also saw the first Mural Town Magic festival, when Katikati celebrated it first five years of projects. The ideas of festivals has not been lost as now Katikati celebrates with the week long bi-ennial NZ Mural Contest & Art Festival that involves as many forms of the arts and groups as possible.
2017 will be the next NZ Mural Contest and Arts Festival and this time we are looking to make it a 10 day festival – keep an eye on this website over the next few months to see the plans unfold.