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Challenging...Aroha Novak braved cold weather to paint the mural. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

by Chris Tobin

Timaru now has a few more of the cabbage trees (ti kouka) that once proliferated around Timaru and South Canterbury.

The latest additions, however, are a little different.

They are painted versions on a wall of the D.C. Turnbull & Co building in Strathallan St.

Dunedin artist Aroha Novak (32) completed her mural depicting ti kouka, one of New Zealand’s most distinctive trees, at the weekend.

Work on the artwork was delayed due to rain early last week and the wall had its own challenges.

“It’s quite tall, about 10m. I’ve worked on more landscaped walls,” Ms Novak said.

Eighteen months ago she painted the broad eastern Community House wall about 50m further down Strathallan St using multiple images of the Mt Cook lily.

That artwork was part of an Alive Vibrant Timaru and Timaru Civic Trust project to bring street art to Timaru.

The project included murals by “Toothfish” on Willmotts Workwear’s southern wall in Sophia St, and another work by Hayley King (Flox) on the back wall of the former National Bank Building, now Hector Black’s Lounge Bar, in Stafford St.

The ti kouka mural was commissioned by the company D.C. Turnbull.

“I came up with a design,” Ms Novak said.

“They had seen a proposal I put to the Timaru Civic Trust.”

Completed work…Aroha Novak completed the mural on Sunday. PHOTO: CHRIS TOBIN

She said the image had been painted as a postcard scene with her vision of Timaru pre-European settlement.

Ti kouka feature in Maori history and legend and have added significance for Timaru.

According to New Zealand History (Nga Korero a ipurangi o Aotearoa), the town site was originally known as Te Maru: the shelter.

“Timaru Harbour provided shelter for travelling canoes, and whalers and early settlers may have incorrectly recorded the spelling,” New Zealand History stated.

“Another interpretation is ti: cabbage tree; maru: shelter: sheltering cabbage tree. Since maru may also mean luxuriant growth, the meaning may be luxuriant cabbage trees.”