Waitangirua Action Group hits 10 years
Porirua’s graffiti-tackling team is down to just two, but the work doesn’t stop.
Jay Marson and Karina Ratana are what’s left of Waitangirua Action Group, which was formed in 2006.
Under the umbrella of Porirua Healthy Safer City Trust, the group buys paint, pays wages and runs a vehicle.
Porirua and Wellington city councils are the main funders, but Wellington Electricity also contracts the group to keep the utility boxes and power poles graffiti-free in Porirua and Tawa.
The group started with a lot of fanfare 10 years ago, and a recent interview with Seven Sharp showed Waitangirua Action Group was still popular.
‘‘They followed us around for a day,’’ Marson said. ‘‘We don’t go looking for that attention, but I guess it’s not a bad thing.’’
The group quickly evolved from just removing graffiti in Waitangirua to engaging with young people, giving them paint brushes to paint over tags following referrals from police and Child, Youth and Family.
Marson and Ratana’s nononsense attitude, and their ability to relate, strikes a chord with the teens.
Waitangirua Action Group moved to Kenepuru four years ago and Marson said she and Ratana kept busy, even if looking over their shoulder for funding could get tiresome.
She said last year the group nearly folded. Funding from councils used to be a three-yearly process, now it’s annual.
‘‘There’s just us two, but there’s always plenty to do and we have the contacts and rapport with the community,’’ Marson said.
‘‘I didn’t think I’d be here 10 years later, but we are, and I think we’re helping to get rid of that stigma about Porirua. If people want us to keep going, we will.’’
Marson spoke at a national graffiti symposium in Christchurch in February and Waitangirua Action Group made it to the final of the regional Airport Awards last year.
These days, tags can be photographed and loaded on to an app on a smartphone, putting graffiti instantly into a council database. Spikes in certain tags and suburbs can thus be tracked.
Marson said there were hot spots for graffiti in Porirua, including Mepham Pl in Porirua East, but overall it had declined.
Karina Ratana, left, and Jay Marson are the remaining members of Waitangirua Action Group, which started in 2006.