Words of welcome part of a busy retirement

COME ON IN: Mark Dunstan with Nelson College students, from left, Kawiti-Tre Tahana-Carew, Chris Chamberlain, Steele Bartlett and Jacob Tauti, with the greeting panels made by the former Nelson College art teacher for the college whare.
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
COME ON IN: Mark Dunstan with Nelson College students, from left, Kawiti-Tre Tahana-Carew, Chris Chamberlain, Steele Bartlett and Jacob Tauti, with the greeting panels made by the former Nelson College art teacher for the college whare.

Former long-serving Nelson College art teacher Mark Dunstan has retired, but you wouldn't know it.

His latest project for the school where he taught for 34 years, and was also its guidance counsellor, is a series of multilingual panels for the college whare, Te Ara Poutama.

The mixed media panels have greetings in six languages - Maori, Fijian, Cook Islands Maori, Samoan, Tongan and Niuean. They will form an 11-metre frieze along a wall of the whare, which opened in 2011.

Dunstan gifted the college a large decorative panel with a Maori design, representing a stairway to higher learning, on his retirement at the end of last year.

The idea for the greeting panels stemmed from the use of the whare by a range of groups apart from Maori, including Pasifika students.

Dunstan has completed five of the works, and will create the sixth with college students.

He said that since his retirement last year, he had been "painting like a mad fool" in his Atawhai studio.

"It's fantastic. When you are an art teacher, it's really hard to do your own work, because the job takes up your energy and ideas."

Dunstan said he had 1/16th Maori blood, and was keen to explore patterned and decorative Maori and Pacific Island designs.

He was working up to an exhibition, and also had plans with college art department head Kevin Burgess for a large mural on a concrete wall at the Broads playing fields.

"I'm flat out at the moment."

The Nelson Mail