Art inspired by local myths and legends

Michelle Estall with one of her paintings. Photos: Bruce Barnard.

Visitors to The Incubator have been enjoying the first solo exhibition of a local artist this month.

Tauranga artist Michelle Estall has had several paintings on display at the Historic Village gallery, which represent myths and legends from the area's past.

“I've always loved art. I have a background in graphic design, but I've always wanted to do painting,” says Michelle. “It wasn't until my youngest child started going to kindy three years ago that I started doing art fulltime.”

She says the subject matter of the exhibition is something she's taken a strong interest in at this stage of her life.

“My son was attending Maungaarangi Kindergarten in Welcome Bay, and in their teaching they base a lot of their lessons around seven local legends. They approached me to illustrate some jigsaws for the kids, based on these stories.

“Then I thought the pictures would make great paintings. So they were essentially my working drawings for what became the exhibition.”

Some of the paintings depict well-known local legends, such as how Mauao came to sit at the entrance of Tauranga Harbour. Others portray lesser-known stories, such as that of Taurikura, a chief's daughter who turned herself into a lizard out of shame, and travelled to Karewa Island, where she is thought to be the ancestor of the tuatara living there.

Michelle has also painted about the three whales who came to Tauranga Moana and drank from a magic spring, which turned them into the hills of Kopukairoa, Mangatawa, and Hikurangi.

Her next project is working on illustrations for a book by Hinemarie Burton on the legend of Mauao. Hinemarie has also co-authored a bilingual picture book on the story of the whale mountains.

Michelle's exhibition is on at The Incubator in the Historic Village from October 6-30. It is free to view during The Incubator's opening hours, 10am-3pm weekdays.

The Incubator's first solo exhibition programme is funded in part by the Tauranga City Council Community Development Match Fund, in which the council contributes 50 per cent of the costs of a project up to $10,000.

Michelle's painting of Taurikura.



Posted on 16-11-2017 22:19 | By MISS ADVENTURE

That much is right, my 4 year old puts together something more interesting and talented that what we see here.

Exploiting the opportunity

Posted on 26-10-2017 09:42 | By Papamoaner

Artwork of the quality produced by Michelle Estall ought to be featured as part of "welcome to Tauranga" hoardings, perhaps as sculptures, on the Kaimai highway, and perhaps at Katikati. If we don't utilise this extraordinary talent, other regions are likely to upstage us.

Tauranga or the mount for cruise ships?

Posted on 25-10-2017 13:32 | By Papamoaner

Granted, there are some attractions here at the mount, similar to many overseas ports. But most of the local history and Tauranga city are over on the other side. The lead story here wasn't about the museum but about Michelle Estall's art, followed by suggestions on how best to present it. Let's not make the same mistake Wellington made by having cruise passengers disembark alongside a massive pile of export logs and containers, then walking a kilometre into an otherwise beautiful compact little city. They once had a passenger terminal at Clyde Quay where the Shaw Saville liners Southern Cross and Northern Star regularly tied up 250 metres walk from Courtenay Place. Tauranga can do better, and at modest cost, not all from ratepayers either. What huge potential. I am reasonably confident it will happen too given time and forward vision.


Posted on 25-10-2017 12:27 | By Papamoaner

Thank you for that. You have now confirmed my earlier comment that you have not followed the museum debates otherwise you would have seen that suggestion before. Since you demonstrate little interest in change around the place and in fact generally oppose ideas proffered, we can presume you have made no submissions on any projects then, unlike some of us who are genuinely active in improvements in a number of areas for the community, not just making random derogatory comments without subject depth of focus. Yet again I trust the inference is not lost on you. But I'm not holding my breath on that one.

last word for you

Posted on 25-10-2017 11:30 | By Captain Sensible

You can have the last word as you always desire. Anyone reading this nonsense can make up their own mind.

wasting money is NOT the definition of lateral thinking!

Posted on 25-10-2017 10:28 | By Captain Sensible

I caught you out with your 6 km walkway idea so you suddenly changed your mind to some pie in the sky idea about a terminal behind the container terminal. (edited)


Posted on 25-10-2017 09:34 | By Papamoaner

The proposed walking distance from the cruise liner wharf to Cliff road carpark in my submission yet to be presented to local gov't, but 75% complete, is around 300 metres. It is conspicuous that you are consistently regular in putting other peoples ideas down as (quote) "silly and sillier" but we have yet to see a singular original idea from you old chap. I trust the inference is not lost on you.

out of touch papamoaner

Posted on 25-10-2017 08:53 | By Captain Sensible

You really have no idea do you? The cost of a terminal just for passengers so they can walk to look at a useless museum that has no relevance to them....or continue to tie up where they do with walks to beach, harbour, hot pools, mountain, shops, and stunning views. What is the obsession with a passenger ship terminal when I have never heard any passengers complain about where the ships tie up now and the access to so much within a short walk. (Edited)


Posted on 24-10-2017 13:33 | By Papamoaner

Maybe you haven't been following the museum debate on these threads, so might be unaware that some of us have for some time now advocated a cruise liner berth on the city side of the harbour near the bridge, where there is plenty of empty space to build a wharf/terminal. Not sure if you're familiar with that area, but you can already walk under the bridge, and it's a very short walk from there to Cliff road car park, albeit picturesque, and potentially spectacular with help from talented contributors like Michelle Estall. Tauranga has huge potential yet to be exploited. With rising CO2 and nitrogen levels, farming as a primary industry is doomed to partially decline. Tourism could be our new primary industry. We need to look and plan ahead if we are to keep up. Think outside the square!

papamoaner wants....

Posted on 24-10-2017 11:11 | By Captain Sensible

A 6 km "walkway" through the industrial area for passenger ship passengers that also goes "under the bridge". Thank goodness he/she is not in charge of rate payers money!

@ papamoaner

Posted on 24-10-2017 08:37 | By Captain Sensible

A 6 km walkway from the end of the wharf at Salisbury Ave to Cliff Road in Tauranga! And how many passengers would walk that 45+ minutes in the sun through an industrial area with cars and trucks zooming past? That is the most silly idea of all your silly ideas....or did you just have a brain fade moment thinking passenger ships tied up near Cliff Road cargo shed?


Posted on 23-10-2017 15:57 | By Papamoaner

Hell, hardly rocket science to figure out how to build a simple walkway under a bridge, and the total distance isn't far either. Any old silly excuse to block progress eh mate. @Missy - in addition to, not instead of. (hope you can figure that out)

@ papamoaner

Posted on 23-10-2017 13:05 | By Captain Sensible

Have you forgotten that "a walkway from the passenger shipping berths to Cliff road" has a flaw....the Harbour Bridge!! Not many passenger ships can get under it!!! I think you are very much mistaken as to where the passenger ships tie up!

@ Poppa-addict-derlict

Posted on 23-10-2017 10:36 | By MISS ADVENTURE

Actually the Hostoric Village is for sure the best place for this type of thing, there is an atmosphere for it, far better than any notion you might otherwise have.

A suggestion for TCC

Posted on 23-10-2017 08:28 | By Papamoaner

I hope the council take this potentially significant opportunity on board. Visualise a walkway from the passenger shipping berths to Cliff road with Michelle's art along both sides, accompanied by explanations of the myths and legends. Effectively extending the museum outdoors. The route will need extensive lighting and cctv protection against vandalism, but at this day and age the cost of the technology is not prohibitive. Thank you Michelle - I think your contribution to Tauranga might hopefully turn out to be bigger than you originally thought. You are an asset.

A truly wonderful talent,

Posted on 23-10-2017 07:55 | By R. Bell

and a great family. Love the one of Luke with the spade. Keep up the good work Michelle, you will inspire many more to realize their talent. Melvia and Robin Bell.

Love your work.

Posted on 22-10-2017 17:48 | By BlueberryBee

We had a look at Michelle's work last weekend, AMAZING!. Having grown up locally I instantly recognized they were based around local legends. Was just fabulous and certainly got my attention. Papamoner was a fantastic idea having this work commissioned and seeing it about the place. :-)

Nice work Michelle

Posted on 22-10-2017 11:29 | By Papamoaner

Good to see such talent locally. They ought to commission you to decorate the new museum when it gets built. I would also like to see some of your work on and around wharf buildings where the cruise liners tie up. What great PR that would be for Tauranga. The city with the beautiful name and beautiful presentation, not too big, not too small, just right!

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