Tūmanako Project Murals


The murals which are sited on the Maitai/ Mahitahi River Esplanade, beside Trafalgar Park, were created by local rangatahi under the theme of tūmanako (hope) as part of the Tūmanako Project, which was led by multidisciplinary Māori artist Graham Hoete, also known as Mr G (Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui).

The mural project was commissioned by Te Puni Kōkiri (Ministry of Māori development), and delivered with support from Nelson City Council, Ngā Iwi o Te Tauihu, Whakatū Marae, Nelson Community Venues and the Tasman Rugby Union. The aim of the project is to connect with rangatahi through art and raise mental health awareness. Hope is the main message from this project and to encourage rangatahi to pursue their dreams and passions and inspire them to dream for the future.

The murals were unveiled on Friday, 11 November 2022. Each mural represents a kaitiaki (guardian), pūrākau (stories) unique to Te Tauihu o Te Waka-a-Māui (Top of the South region) and tipua (supernatural creatures/superheroes) that came with Kupe, the legendary Polynesian explorer, navigator and great rangatira of Hawaiki, who is said to have been the first to discover Aotearoa.

Tumanako panels

Each of the murals on the posts are dedicated to Ngā Iwi e Waru o Te Tauihu o Te Waka-a-Māui (the eight-iwi affiliated to this region). The tukutuku (lattice board pattern) is an acknowledgement to Kakati, Whakatū Marae. It symbolises kotahitanga (unity) of the eight iwi of Te Tauihu who supported this project

 Te Kawau-a-Toru ‘the shag kept by Toru’

Tumanako panels1

Te Kawau-a-Toru

Toru is the shortened name for Pōtoru, the Captain of Te Rino canoe that guided Kupe on his voyage through Aotearoa. According to some iwi, Toru was the daughter of Kupe, and Te Kawau-a-Toru was her pet. The hands shown in the background represent manaaki atu, manaaki mai (reaching out and reaching in) encouraging all of us to check in on each other.


Te Rupe o Ruapaka

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Te Rupe o Ruapaka

This kaitiaki is a reminder to always look forward and back, and that for us to move forward, its important to know our whakapapa (who we are, and where we are from). The whare in the background represents Te Whare Tapa Whā (the four pillars of wellbeing coined by Sir Mason Durie).


Tumanako panels3



Kaikaiāwaro was a kaitiaki that took the form of an aihe (dolphin) and is called upon through incantation to protect, support and guide in times of need both historically and today.

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