In a battle fought with paint brushes and spray cans, artist Jeremy Shirley's colourful creations appear to be winning over the city's youth.
Shirley's latest creation, a sweeping mural encompassing one wall of the Hamilton's Western Community Centre, was blessed yesterday by Hamilton City Council's official kaumatua Tame Pokaia.
City council's tagbusters team leader Charles Flanagan said the mural drew inspiration from the community and depicted traditional Maori baskets, tui, Fraser Tech Rugby Club players and a skateboarder.
Shirley's work adorns 23 bus stops in the city as well as five toilets, the Cobham Dr bridge and a building in Melville Park.
Flanagan would not say how much Shirley was paid for the mural but said the colourful creations were proving an effective deterrent in the fight against tagging and graffiti.
''Council has an annual budget of $700,000 for graffiti removal, with $15,000 of that committed to proactive tactics, for example murals such as those Jeremy Shirley has created,'' he said.
The council did a lot of consultation with iwi and the community over the Nawton mural, Flanagan said, resulting in the community having a sense of ownership over it.
''The mural art contributes to the vibrancy of the area so the broader community keeps an eye on things,'' he said.
''It's important to state murals aren't a 'silver bullet' solution to tagging but staff have noted taggers are less likely to hit Mr Shirley's murals than the blank canvases offered by undecorated walls, underpasses and bus stops around the city.''