Community rock painting gets local families outdoors

In early 2017, Mary-Jane Kirkman decided she wanted a new direction in her life and to do something for herself. She put a post out on Facebook asking her friends for their ideas about what she could do for the New Year. One of these friends suggested rock painting and from here, Ōamaru Rocks was born. begin with Mary-Jane painted a few rocks from her garden with nail polish and hid them in a local park for local kids to find. Within a week she had been told by her own kids that children from their school had found the rocks and they were thrilled.

“The kids were so happy, they were so excited and I thought, I have to do more of that” Mary Jane explains.


Wider community involvement

Kirsten Dixon, SKIP Coordinator for Safer Waitaki came across the rock painting group on Facebook and recognised the potential that this idea had for local families.

“I already knew Kirsten, from both being Scout leaders and she was able to involve ŌamaruRocks in things that SKIP was doing and she became a mentor for me’ Mary-Jane describes.

Other business and community groups have become involved with the group over time including Resene and Culture Waitaki as well as White Ribbon New Zealand.

Facebook connection

ŌamaruRocks has also grown a strong online community through it's Facebook page. The page currently has over 800 members and is the main way of sharing what is happening within this community. The members of the group will post pictures of what they are painting, where they are hiding and what rocks they are finding. Some rocks have even travelled internationally!

Family activity

Over the three years that the group has been running, it’s had a wide impact on the community. There has been thousands of rocks painted and hidden by children and parents. It is a unique idea because it builds social connectedness at a pace that is comfortable for the community member. 

"I know that ŌamaruRocks has helped people meet each other and become friends. People can connect in their own time - perhaps by posting a photo on the Facebook page or by starting a conversation in a park or at a rock painting event" Mary Jane explains

Mary-Jane attributes the success of rock painting to the fact that you don’t have to be artisitic to paint a rock and that you don’t have to be athletic to find a rock. It’s an easy and straight forward activity that gets children and parents being creative and exploring out in their community together