Bayfair underpass comes to life


An aquatic mural is getting underway in the Bayfair underpass as part of the Baypark to Bayfair Link project, and the community is invited to watch it take shape.

The walls of the Bayfair underpass will be transformed with a unique piece of mahi toi – a mural featuring underwater and shore kaitiaki (guardian) species, covering both sides and spanning the length of the pedestrian connection from Bayfair Shopping Centre to Golf 360 on the Matapihi side. 

Ngāti Tapu artist Stu Mcdonald, along with several other local artists, will get started on Saturday 9 March and the community is welcome to float on in, watch the artists create and find out more about the mural and the stories it tells over the next 3 – 4 weeks. 

Stu McDonald, a local artist and carver who leads The Ahipoutu Collective in Matapihi, is using this opportunity to encourage talented local up-and-coming rangatahi (youth) artists to contribute to the mural and make their mark on the Tauranga Moana art scene. 

“We are also liaising with Te Kura o Matapihi to arrange groups of school kids through the underpass during the mural painting so they can contribute too, allowing the local community to engage in this project in a really meaningful way,” Stu says. 

“With some of the artists involved being former Te Kura o Matapihi students - this is a great link to the local community. 

“Everyone is welcome to visit us, see the artists at work, have a kōrero and get involved.” 

Jo Wilton, NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi Regional Manager of Infrastructure Delivery for Waikato/Bay of Plenty says it’s a joy see the artworks coming together as part of the Bay Link project.  

“Recognising the cultural identity and values of mana whenua and acknowledging and expressing their relationships with their ancestral lands, water, sites, wāhi tapu and other taonga, is an integral part of the project,” Ms Wilton says. 

“The mural will be painted during the day, allowing underpass users to see live painting happening. Please take the opportunity to come along over the next month.” 

The underpass will remain open to people walking and cycling while this work is underway. Please take care when using the underpass as space may be more constrained than usual while this work is underway.  

About the mural 

‘Mai te Awa, Ki te Moana - From the river to the ocean’  

The artists will use the underpass and toi (artwork) as a lens to paint kaitiaki species that are important to mana whenua. Being situated between the harbour and the ocean, this area was once abundant with plant and animal life including important sources of kaimoana for mana whenua. 

This is one of the overarching cultural narratives associated with the Bay Link project and will tie-in with the existing mahi toi already present across the site and still to come. 

The following flora and fauna will be shown on the walls of the underpass in the painted mural: 

  • Mangōpare – Hammerhead shark 
  • Whai – Eagle ray 
  • Tuna – Eel 
  • Inanga – Whitebait 
  • Tuturiwhatu - Dotterel 
  • Kōtuku – White Heron 
  • Tītī – Shearwater or Muttonbird 
  • Harakeke – Flax 

Key dates and location 

Saturday 9 September to approx. Saturday 30 March 2024 

Daytime, from approx. 8am – 5pm, weather dependent 

Bayfair walking and cycling underpass 

About the artist 

Stu McDonald – Ngā Rauru, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngati Rehua, Ngāti Tapu 

Stu is a tā moko (traditional Māori tattoo) artist, teacher and carver by study and trade. He has a prominent local Tauranga Moana based studio – The Ahipoutu Collective, and a team of creatives around him creating beautiful pieces for people and places around Aotearoa and internationally. Stu also shares his knowledge in education, mental health and wellbeing working with local schools in Tauranga Moana and the broader Bay of Plenty.   

Stu’s traditional knowledge of tā moko and whakairo (carving), and general skill as a creative and artist, has led to a broad range of project experience, with the Bay Link project providing a great opportunity to work with different scales and mediums.  

Stu McDonald

The underpass as it looks now.