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Marking Space and Making Place: Geographies of Graffiti in Wellington, New Zealand

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posted on 12.11.2021, 01:08 by Des Forges, Michaela

Contemporary graffiti dates from the 1960s when hip-hop style graffiti grew in popularity amongst youth in Philadelphia and New York. It has since spread throughout the world and its various forms and styles are considered both art and vandalism. In Aotearoa New Zealand, graffiti is seen in most urban areas and is regarded as a major problem for local authorities. Despite this, research concerning graffiti in New Zealand is sparse. This research contributes to emerging work on graffiti in Wellington and New Zealand. It aims to provide an insight into the geographies of graffiti in Wellington by exploring the visual, spatial, and temporal aspects of graffiti, as well as the social dynamics informing its production and distribution. Using this information I investigate parallels between what is happening locally and what has been documented in international research. To carry out the research aims, I employed qualitative observations of selected sites around the city over time and used photographs to interpret and document graffiti. I also carried out semi-structured interviews with some graffitists, in addition to people involved in city safety and efforts to stop graffiti. In framing the research I specifically draw from critical geography writing on discourse, power, resistance, place, and space which are particularly salient in regards to graffiti. The research documents similarities with international research in regards to the motivations, rules, and visual, temporal, and spatial aspects. However, Wellington graffitists interact with, and utilise, the city’s space in unique and multifaceted ways which reflect and exhibit localised differences worthy of consideration internationally. For instance, graffitists use, view, and read the urban environment in ways that result in them having an intimacy with the urban environment. Additionally, graffitists think about where they place their graffiti with regards to property, location, intended audiences, and observance to subculture rules.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Kindon, Sara; Hutton, Fiona