The police in New Zealand are hipper than you might think. Faced with the on-going effort to clean up after the devastating Christ Church earthquake earlier this year, New Zealand Police recently launched a new nationwide ad campaign that aims to tell true life stories of police officers through stencilled street art. In a style deeply reminiscent of Banksy's stencil work, the ads are painted on the walls in the same locations that the featured police activities took place. New Zealand Police hired M&C Saatchi to organize the campaign and street artist Otis Frizzell created the paintings. (The choice of Saatchi is amusing, as the firm's founder, British advertising mogul and art collector Charles Saatchi, has a somewhat contentious relationship with Banksy, who's said he'll never sell his work to Saatchi.)
New Zealand Police has released videos that show how each graffitied ad was produced, along with a brief description of each event, quoted below. From the cop who comforted Japanese victims of the earthquake to the pair of officers demonstrating a classic catch-a-crook method, the three murals seriously muddle the old paradigm that police are the enemies of street artists.
Tragically, when the CTV building collapsed in the Christchurch earthquake, there were 28 Japanese victims. Armed with fluent Japanese and an empathy for the culture, Constable Nao Yoshimizu stood by the families as they struggled to comprehend what had happened to their loved ones.
On K' Road in Auckland, Otis Frizzell has stencilled a foot chase scene, depicting the story of two officers, Constable Julia Vahry and Constable Madeline Roberts. The officers are executing a perfect pincer movement as the perpetrator runs into their well-laid trap.
When you see the street art off Cuba St in Wellington, you'll see Detective Kylie Schaare standing protectively over a small child. At night, a menacing shadow hovers over the scene. The story behind the art is of Kylie, who worked tirelessly to build the case and arrest a man who had been abusing his own kids and numerous others.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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