The Katikati Open-Air Art project is a community-based initiative designed to celebrate the unique identity and heritage of Katikati and the surrounding area. Through a mural project that would highlight specific historical, cultural and environmental influences.
Katikati Open- Air Art Inc. was formed as a result of real concern that a major effort was needed to restore and stimulate pride in our past and future, and to rejuvenate a community severely hit by the economic conditions of the time.
In late 1990’s, Katikati was a town in the economic doldrums, with no foreseeable bright prospects ahead. Kiwifruit growers had endured four years of low returns, there had been a downturn in the dairy industry, the share market crash of 1988 had severely affected the livelihood of many orchards and businesses, and to top it off a projected state highway by-pass had many local business people worried.
The proposed by-pass of Katikati, on the main road between Waihi and Tauranga proved to be the catalyst to bring together a wide range of people from within our area, who believed we must develop a cohesive revitalisation plan of the town centre by means of a wide ranging project, designed to involve and benefit the community, while also reflecting who we were and where we have all come from. These people believed it was time for a new approach, a new direction and initiative.
Katikati was one of the last planned settlements in New Zealand, and the only settlement with immigrants being drawn from Ulster in Northern Ireland. Descendants of these settlers still reside in the district to this day; they were supportive of the mural project and would prove to be a valuable source of resource material.
Both Ngati Ranginui (of the Takitimu canoe) and Ngai Te Rangi (of the Mataatua canoe) are the tangata whenua of the area.