The Bridges

You might be wondering ‘What’s so interesting about bridges that Jan should decide they are interesting enough to write about and put them on this website?’

Well, that’s a good question.

But then the bridges coming into our town are not just any road and rail bridges – as you will see if you drive over them and look at them.

OK… My photo doesn’t really do justice to them as I really needed a wide angle lense to fit the bridge piles in… or maybe a telephoto lense to get them closer. But if you look closely you will see that the piles under our bridges are covered with beautiful, bright, colourful murals.

Our bridges are “The Bridges Art Gallery”- New Zealand’s most unique outdoor art gallery!

The idea came from Barbie who walked her dog everyday along the river bank. She was on a committee I was on and she came up with the suggestion one night that we should paint out the graffiti that was scrawled underneath the road bridge (near the river reserve) because it was ‘absolute filth!’

After mulling the idea about we came up with this idea to have a mural painting contest – where anyone of any age could come along during the September school holiday break and paint a mural.

I went to council and managed to get a small grant of money to help with getting some paint, and we had some donations of paint from the community and local businesses, and the Waipawa Lions Club gave us $300 to award for prizes.

We had two categories… adults and children each with first prize of $100 and second prize $50…, AND THE PAINTING BEGAN!

Some people really got into it… and it was lucky we had a hot spell of weather and a handy river to wash off (or swim – whatever your perception may be) in afterwards.

We had people painting ranging in age from three years old to 80 years old…

but probably the biggest age range was the youth of our town.

It was a great couple of weeks with families coming down to paint, or watch artists at work, or picnic or swim…

And soon the bridges were looking like this.

The kids were given smaller spaces because to fill in under a whole car bridge pile was a HUGE undertaking. But the effect was really amazing!

About eighty murals were painted in those holidays with the judging taking place on our annual ‘Duck Day’ proceeded by the Duck race in the river.

The following year we continued further across under the road bridge and also gained permission to paint the rail bridge facing the road.

Those are probably the paintings which travelers notice, and many probably travel through Waipawa quite unaware of the hundred or so paintings under the road bridge they are driving on.

But these are some of the ones you can see from the road.

It does make our bridges a little special don’t you think?

Most of the paintings are still there if you want to go down a see them – however the ones painted in the first holiday break which were on dry land are not as they should be.

The council in their ‘great wisdom’ sited our town’s new skate park next to them (you know that ‘out of sight – out of mind mentally’ when it comes to youth) and now the graffiti associated with skate parks has spread onto those murals near them.

But the murals on the river bed are mostly untouched – and if the river is right you can walk around the piles and view the wonderful artworks of these wonderful Waipawa artists of all ages.