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Looking back on 20 years of beautifying South Auckland

Updated: Feb 17, 2022

It’s our 20-year anniversary! Since our inception, the Beautification Trust has always had a big heart for the community.

From the very start, the Trust has provided opportunities for locals to express civic pride by cleaning up their local area. In the late 1990s Reverend Mark Beale of St Elizabeth's Anglican Church in Clendon was approached by one of the Church’s youth leaders, Barbara Carney, and youth group members with an interesting idea. They wanted to engage in community work, specifically, painting out graffiti. Guthrie Bowron soon became involved with this great initiative, playing a big role by donating not only paint, but also an old van.

Youth group removing tags in 1997 – the beginning of a movement. Lizzy Beale, Vanessa Carney & Chantelle Carney.
Youth group removing tags in 1997 – the beginning of a movement. Lizzy Beale, Vanessa Carney & Chantelle Carney.

Inspired, Mark decided to set up a contract with government to have three guys join the fight against graffiti through Task Force Green. This was a government initiative to pay workers on the unemployment benefit a little extra for up to six months to go out each week and clean up Clendon.

The local initiative made a big difference for the Clendon area, but wider South Auckland still faced a major problem with graffiti vandalism. In October 2001, Manukau Mayor Sir Barry Curtis called a public meeting attended by about 300 residents, at which he announced they would form a charitable trust to control and eradicate graffiti. He asked Mark if he would consider chairing it, to which Mark agreed. This came as a complete surprise to Mark, however seeing as the Mayor had announced this at a public meeting it seemed he “had no option,” says Mark with a chuckle as he reflects on the day.

Since 2001 the Trust’s proven record of efficient and effective tagging removal has resulted in an expansion of territory under Auckland Council’s management. We are now contracted by Council to remove tagging in the city’s six Southern Local Board areas.

Over time our approach to beautifying the Southern Auckland region has evolved to include much, much more than tagging removal. We have taken community groups, organisations, schools and neighbourhoods on a journey to care deeply about the environment that surrounds them.

Mark says the most important aspect about the Trust “is maintaining its ethos of caring and involving the community regarding issues centred around sustaining a healthy and clean environment.” According to Mark, his commitment to Three E’s - Eradication, Education and Enforcement was important to embed in the Trust early on.

Barbara Carney and Mark Beale
Barbara Carney and Mark Beale

The education element of the Trust took off in 2004 after Barbara Carney and Graeme Bakker joined the Trust. Initially, Barbara managed the graffiti removal operations, then became Community Manager and is still a valued member of the Trust’s staff. Graeme headed the Trust first as General Manager, then CEO for 16 years.

Graeme’s spark of creativity and Barbara’s people skills enabled the Trust to venture into all sorts of projects to benefit the community. For example, the “Empowerment Mural” in Otara was a real highlight; at 165 metres long, it could be the largest mural in the world. The mural was painted by over 150 school children from 30 schools from all over Manukau City in 2006.

The giant “Empowerment Mural" in Otara being painted in 2006
The giant “Empowerment Mural" in Otara being painted in 2006

The Trust is proud of our strong and rich heritage, as we continue on our mission to connect and empower communities to learn, love and look after our environment.

Current CEO Daniel Barthow says the Trust is passionate about doing more to empower and connect communities to the environment.

“We’re here for practical support and the list of support is long. It includes removing graffiti, facilitating murals, providing tools, support and funding, delivering environmental education and letting groups use our spaces. Each contributes in a significant way to seeing communities have a sense of pride and safety.”

We are incredibly thankful to the thousands of people who have volunteered untold hours to make a real difference in our community. If you would like to be part of our journey and stay informed about future activities, keep an eye on our Facebook page or sign up to our regular newsletter at

Together, let’s continue to beautify South Auckland.

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