Justine and Matt Cornford are excited for what the future may bring for Equippers’ revamped rock wall space. PHOTO/EMILY IRELAND

Emily Ireland

Children will literally be reaching for the stars in Wairarapa with a new arty addition to the region’s only indoor rock climbing wall.

The climbing wall, located at Equippers Church in Masterton, has been given a makeover by Wellington artist Sean Duffell.

Duffell’s work, typically massive and popping with saturated-colour, is featured in public spaces around New Zealand.

One such space is the mural outside Paper Plus which was funded by Masterton District Council.

The new mural on the Equippers rock climbing wall was funded by the Masterton District Creative Communities Scheme.

Equippers pastor Matt Cornford said it was amazing to watch the transformation of the wall face into a mural featuring jungle animals and trees, fading into a starry sky with planets.

“It was better than I could have imagined,” he said.

“You see the sparseness of space through to the detail of the trees.”

Matt said he was “blown away” by how quickly Duffell’s work took shape.

“He rocked in on the Thursday with boxes of spray cans and it was all finished on Tuesday.”

The concept behind the climbing wall art was “to point towards the Creation account to reveal how good God is”, Matt said.

Matt and his wife Justine moved to Wairarapa two years ago.

He was a physio in Christchurch for nine years before that but originated from Pahiatua.

“It was kind of a homecoming,” Matt said of his return to the region to be a pastor.

He said he remembered the rock climbing wall at the venue from when he was a kid – “that was back when it was Oasis”.

“When we came back, we looked at what was here and thought, what can we do?”

He said he wanted to raise the profile of the rock climbing wall.

“We don’t want church to be just about getting together on Sundays and meeting once a week.

“We want to be able to do things the community can partake in and value and be blessed by.”

He said he wanted to progressively work on the space to “get it a bit more user-friendly and modernised”.

“We’re getting the roof redone hopefully in the next couple of months and then who knows what might happen.”

He envisages that one day there will be a café area there so that parents can “bring their kids in, put them up on the wall, grab a coffee, and hang out when it is too hot, cold, or wet outside”.

“I’m not sure what kind of rock climbing community exists in Wairarapa, but I think we are the only indoor rock wall as far as I am aware of.

“I’d like this to be a more used facility.”

Equippers Church have a working relationship with Wairarapa Outdoor Pursuits who manage rope maintenance, harnesses, and client flow.

At the moment, the space is used mostly by school groups from Wairarapa and Wellington.

“I’m just excited about what could happen, and I love the idea of taking a small step and then another step and another towards our vision,” Matt said.

“We don’t necessarily have that spotlight down the road, but we do have that little light in front of the steps we are taking now.”