Replica of Don Driver mural to be made

A high-quality replica of a beloved Don Driver mural will be set outside the new terminal building at the New Plymouth Airport.

The full-scale replica of the Kingsford Smith mural will feature in a prominent setting outside the new terminal, and will be designed to withstand all weathers.

The current Don Driver aluminum mural has hung in the old terminal for 50 years, and the proposal to not include it in the new terminal was met with public outcry.

However, the company that runs the airport, Papa Rererangi i Puketapu (PRIP), has now given the go-ahead for the resin-based replica, which will cost about $60,000.

New Plymouth Airport chief executive Wayne Wootton says the work is too large to mount inside the new terminal building, and art experts have advised the original, created in 1966, is too fragile to display outdoors.

PRIP is working on the replica with conservator Detlef Klein, who oversaw another replica of a Don Driver work, Cats, which is in the main playground in Pukekura Park.

“The original will undergo conservation work before it goes to its permanent home, which is likely to be Puke Ariki,” Wootton says.

“We’re talking to the artist’s family about how best to display this iconic work, celebrating the first-ever passenger-carrying crossing of the Tasman.

“After listening to public feedback, people clearly love it and we want to do it justice.

“The resin replica will take a prominent place in the Airport precinct, giving locals and visitors the best view of it in the natural light that Don Driver made it for.”

The new terminal is being hailed as being able to deliver a world-class travel experience to more than 600,000 users each year when it is up and running in 2020.

The Airport is a commercial operation and the terminal redevelopment project will be entirely funded from Airport revenues, including landing charges, commercial rents and car parking charges. No rates money is being used.

More about the mural

  • New Plymouth City Council authorised the Don Driver mural for a price “not to exceed 300 pounds” when the existing terminal was built.
  • The work commemorates Sir Charles Kingsford Smith’s 1928 crossing of the Tasman Sea in the Southern Cross, a three-engined Fokker F.VIIb/3m aircraft.
  • Don Driver (1930-2011) made it by hand on very thin sheets of aluminium for its original setting just above what is now Air New Zealand’s bag drop area.
  • The six 1.22 by 2.44 metre panels were originally set flat against the wall about 2.5 metres above the floor.
  • In the 1980s the mural was hung from the ceiling further inside the building and set in a curved mounting with a blue border around each panel.
  • The replica of Don Driver’s Cats is set in the main playground in Pukekura Park. He made the original in 1960 to decorate a drinking fountain in the park and it is now in the collection of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.

Caption: Construction of the new airport terminal is underway. SUPPLIED