Yesterday I walked down to a building which has been a landmark in Nelson since it was built, but especially after a giant mural was painted on its wall in 1984. Chris Finlayson, the original artist, plus 28 volunteers have been restoring the mural over the past weeks.
The completed restoration was unveiled with plenty of ceremony: first a tribute and blessing from Maori kaumatuas Barney Thomas and Rev Andy Joseph, an enthusiastic speech from local MP Nick Smith, an explanation from the artist Chris Finlayson, a speech from the NZ Minister for the Arts and finally a blessing and unveiling from Bishop Ellena.
The Arts Minister, Chris Finlayson, thanked the artist for getting him the job! The local paper reported his speech well: ” the minister revealed to the crowd … how confusion over their names had worked to his advantage. Some years ago he received a phone call from someone at the ministry asking him to go on the arts board of Creative New Zealand. Describing himself as a “boring, straight-laced lawyer”. he then started to get invitations to arts functions. “Then it dawned on me the reason I was appointed to the arts board was because of this guy,” he said. “The rest is history and I am now Minister for the Arts.”