We stumbled upon a deliberate graffiti-fest in New Zealand’s far north today after waking up to council workers covering illicit tags. It was a pleasure to talk to the organisers and watch the artists at work as they painted Kaitaia’s skate park on the edge of town.

Painting over graffiti, March 2012
When I opened our truck curtains this morning, I noticed some council worker busily painting over the tags on the public toilets at Awanui.

I spent most of the morning in the Kaitaia library while David took our truck for its mechanical inspection. To give me a break from reading books, we walked through a nearby park and discovered the graffiti-fest in action.

Kaitaia skate bowl, March 2012
About midday we discover that the skate bowl is being painted. A team has whitewashed all the slopes and started on a mural on the wall.

Kaitaia skate bowl, March 2012
The previous mural was disrespected by Kaitaia youth because the painters weren't originally from the Kaitaia region. Hopefully this one will stay in better shape for longer.

Kaitaia skate bowl, March 2012
Paint cans of various colours are set out in anticipation of the artists' desires.

Kaitaia skate bowl, March 2012
After the sections are marked out, artists start to work on their allotment.

Kaitaia skate bowl, March 2012
For the $10 registration, the graffiti artist receives two cans of paint but can pay more for extra.

Kaitaia skate bowl, March 2012
By late afternoon, a small crowd is developing to encourage the artists. A marquee in the far corner pumps out bass funk.

This project is a joint initiative from several groups, including Youth Transition Services, Street Maytz, Crime Prevention and the Graffiti Wipe Out program. The organisers hope to move graffiti from the centre of town to the youth-“owned” areas like the skate park.

Kaitaia skate bowl, March 2012
Some of the artists are particularly creative with colour and design.

David and the girls, March 2012
David and the girls climb up to get a better view of the whole skate bowl.

Kaitaia skate bowl, March 2012
As the day wears on, the organisers start running out of certain colours. Blue is the most popular and runs out first.

When we left Kaitaia before the artist were done, it was simply to find a good place to spend the night. The countryside around here is criss-crossed with quiet roads, but some friends had recommended that we drive up towards the quarry. So we did.

Horse truck outside Kaitai, March 2012
We park for the night off a quiet road near the quarry to the south of Kaitaia. David and the girls start climbing the gravel hill to admire the view.

David and the girls climbing a gravel hill, March 2012
David carries Delaney part of the way. Only Aisha and Brioni make it to the top with him.

David and the girls climbing a gravel hill, March 2012
This is one monster hill of gravel stones. I'm happy to be on the ground, supervising Elijah.

Our truck is now declared mechanically sound and we’re ready to go. Where will we head? I’ll find out tomorrow. But for now, I hang up towels over our windows as curtains and blow out the single candle that lights our interior. If I could paint a picture of our life, it would have to be with words, and that is what this blog is to me — a painting, a portrait, a masterpiece of adventures!