Mysterious Murray Ball tribute in Auckland's Big King Reserve to remain

The artist responsible for the painting says he has long been a Footrot Flats fan.
JASON DORDAY/FAIRFAX NZ

The artist responsible for the painting says he has long been a Footrot Flats fan.

A tribute to the late Footrot Flats cartoonist Murray Ball that appeared on an Auckland reservoir earlier this week will now remain on the structure permanently.

The mysterious painting, showing a sad-looking Dog gazing up at a lone star, appeared on the side of the reservoir at Big King Reserve in Three Kings.

The reservoir on which it was painted has in the past featured artwork that was later painted over by the reservoir's owner, Watercare.

The reservoir atop Big King Reserve. The patchy paintwork is where other art and tagging has been painted over.
JASON DORDAY/FAIRFAX NZ

The reservoir atop Big King Reserve. The patchy paintwork is where other art and tagging has been painted over.

However, after lobbying from Auckland councillor Cathy Casey, Puketapapa Local Board deputy chair Julie Fairey, Mt Roskill MP Michael Wood and others, Watercare has said the artwork can remain permanently.

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Fairey said the appearance of Dog was good timing because Watercare had possibly made the decision as a result of being distracted by flooding and water issues.

Cartoonist Murray Ball. September, 1993.
Bill Kearns

Cartoonist Murray Ball. September, 1993.

A Watercare spokeswoman confirmed that given the circumstances, it would not remove Dog from Three Kings water tower.

"Watercare does not, however, condone works being done on its structures without its prior approval.  We would not wish others to start putting additional graphics on the reservoir."

The spokeswoman said that in January Watercare allowed artist Sarah Hughes to paint a giant mural on its Khyber Pass Reservoir.

"Watercare was involved from the start and ensured that all health and safety requirements, particularly around the choice of non-toxic paint were met."

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Fairey said Watercare had previously said no to the local board's proposal of having a permanent mural design on the reservoir. 

"We're hoping that now we can revisit that and they might say yes, given they've let Dog stay."

She said long-term everybody except Watercare, including Iwi and the Maunga authority, wanted to get rid of the reservoir. 

"But if it's going to be there we might as well make it beautiful and give it some local character."

The painter responsible for the tribute, who wanted to remain anonymous, said he grew up with Footrot Flats and "shed a tear" while painting it.

 - Stuff

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