The Mural Town of Katikati is widely known as an open air art gallery, for the magnificent 40-plus murals that give the town its name.

The town was established by Irish immigrants in the 1870’s – when two shiploads of settlers sailed out to establish the only planned Ulster settlement in the world.

In 1990, at a time when Katikati was facing an economic downturn, a group of volunteers decided to lift the spirits of the local community and to attact visitors by painting their unique history on the walls of the town.  The murals depict everything from school days and farming, to early motor vehicles, and the inside of a motor mechanics workshop and a general store.

Katikati is also known for New Zealand’s only Haiku Pathway, marked by a large curving ‘haiku’ sign in the main street. The path leads down into a green, peaceful valley, and follows the meandering Uretara River.

Of course, because we were staying with Jo (whom I told you about in my previous post), we were lucky enough to have our own personal tour guide of the town!   The Katikati A&P Show also just happened to be on the day we were there, so we got the chance to see alpacas, horses, classic cars and engines, Highland dancing, eat a Devonshire cream tea and delight in the news that Jo had won various accolades in the town’s photographic competition, including a splendid first place!  YAAY!

I was going to call this post “The Kindness of Strangers”, but as Jo is no longer a stranger, I changed my mind – though she was extremely kind 🙂  Whilst Michael and I were staying with Jo, she and I had a chat about meeting up with people whom you had only known online previously – and picking up that friendship up in “real life”.  And we talked about hope and trust and how the world was a better place for it.  Why not hop over to Jo’s blog and read what she has to say about it all?