Arts and culture Creativity Health

Queenstown’s new rejuvenation mural helps mental health

Tess Sheerin in front of her giant mural for mental health

Leading New Zealand mural artist Tess Sheerin has produced the first major mural since the pandemic, aimed at helping mental health, right on the eve of Health Minister Andrew Little making a pre-budget announcement about mental health.

During and after the Covid lockdowns one positive effect on the Aotearoa community was that it has forced many people to consider what is most important in life, Tess says.

And to slow down the pace of people’s lives, connect to their roots, the land, animals and the people around them. Birds are very important to New Zealand’s national identity.

“Each of the wildlife interpretations in the new rejuvenate mural in Tahuna (Queenstown) are in some way a representation of my own journey to better health,” she says.

After the pandemic hit, I also realised a lot of the stuff I was dealing with was happening to the wider community.”


“The mural aims to inspire empathy and erase the stigma surrounding mental health issues. These messages are portrayed through the inspiration of Aotearoa’s unique taonga wildlife.

“One of the birds in the mural, Noah the Moa, is asking for reconnection, growth and gratitude. The second, Karma Kiwi, requests love and kindness and the third Balance Bee requires balance and nutrition.

 “An interpretation of our now-extinct flightless bird and a lost treasure; the moa. Noah the Moa aims to remind us to express gratitude for what we do have before it’s too late.

“Concerns about how to look after our mental health during times of uncertainty and isolation is of utmost importance since the Covid pandemic swept across our planet. How do we look after ourselves and our loved ones?

“Karma Kiwi bird is a representation of this psychological journey. She is calm, grounded and is being kind to herself. Taking the time to slow down, watch her thoughts and emotions. Cultivating love of self which will inevitably radiate out to help others.

“The bee: This incredible flying insect not only gives us delicious honey but, of course, pollinates our flowers and plants, helping us grow food, keeping us happy and healthy human beings.

“She is happy, sets an example and has the world in her hands, respecting the balance of life and that every individual matters and makes a difference no matter the size.

“Connecting with nature is a proven way to improve our mental health, wellbeing of the environment and our own wellbeing are intertwined. Ka ora te whenua, ka ora te tangata.

When the land is well, we are well.” 


The Rejuvenate mural was painted in recognition of The Key to Life Charitable Trust, which was founded by mental health supporter Mike King.

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