At 150 metres long and eight metres high, the vast mural now spanning the entire western wall of the New Zealand Maritime Museum on Hobson Wharf in the Viaduct is quite a feat for Auckland-born Napier artist, Cinzah
Known for his work with Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans, an international public art programme that features today’s most renowned contemporary artists creating large-scale public murals that address pressing environmental issues facing the oceans, Cinzah’s murals can be seen throughout Aotearoa New Zealand and the world.
While all his murals are personally significant, some, like this one on the Maritime Museum, take on a special quality. “The ocean is incredibly important,” Cinzah says, “and creating this mural has given me a chance to highlight, on a grand scale, what’s so beautiful about it and what must be protected, and its relevance to our people and culture. It was a pleasure to be able to exemplify the Maritime Museum’s increasing focus on ocean health and sustainability by making the predominant design element of the mural the natural environment of the Hauraki Gulf and the Waitematā.”
A life-sized humpback whale and giant octopus along with marine life found in our waters, such as hammerhead and mako sharks, kahawai, and snapper swim amongst sea grasses and other ocean habitats. Matariki and other signiﬁcant celestial navigation markers fill the night sky, with Auckland’s iconic Rangitoto presiding majestically in the background. The flowing waves representing the journeys our ancestors made to Aotearoa are enhanced by depictions of the waka hourua Haunui and the brigantine Breeze, two vessels that are berthed in the Maritime Museum marina where they educate visitors about voyaging skills from both Māori and Pākehā traditions.
If you need a reason to visit the revitalised Viaduct area, getting up close and exploring this magnificent mural is it.
The Western Wall: Whales once again
The new artwork being installed at the Maritime Museum
Auckland-born and Napier-based Cinzah Merkens is a multi-disciplinary artist. As a muralist he has beautified walls across Aotearoa and beyond: from Napier and Wellington to Mexico, Estonia, and the Caribbean. For the past nine years he has collaborated with the Pangeaseed Foundation, a not-for-profit international organisation which overtly combines art with activism, advocating for oceans and their conservation.
High on the 150-metre-long, 12-metre-high mural, Merkens incorporates a blast from the past into his design: it’s the signature of Peter Blake (1948-2001). The consummate sailor, who was intimately connected to New Zealand’s successful America’s Cup campaigns, grew up building and racing boats from the Auckland suburb of Bayswater. In later life, concerned by the decline of wildlife in the world’s ocean, he turned environmentalist. In 2000—the year the 30th America’s Cup contest took place in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland—the occasion was marked by the painting of another mural on the museum’s wall. Blake approved it with his signature.
This project was made possible with support gratefully received from
Time lapse video of the mural being created.
Timelapse by New Zealand Maritime Museum with kind support of Luna Rossa team. Editing done by Karl Sheridan from Monster Valley.