Banksy works go up in Tauranga

The secretive street artist known as Banksy has popped up in Tauranga - or at least 22 of his works have.

It's the most extensive exhibition of his works to be put on public display in the southern hemisphere and it's part of a plan to expose older generations to the art.

Some of the most well-known works from one of the most mysterious artists in the world are waiting to be hung, not outside where they're normally spray painted on walls, but inside the Tauranga Art Gallery.

"This is a first in the southern hemisphere we think, where a municipal art gallery in a major city has been given over to street art," curator George Shaw told Newshub.

The personal collection of 22 works belongs to Mr Shaw and his wife, who bought their first Banksy for around $100 years ago.

They're now worth about $200,000.

All that time Banksy has kept his real identity hidden. Late last year Robert del Naja of the British band Massive Attack responded to rumours it was him, saying the speculation was "greatly exaggerated" and he was just a friend of Banksy's.

Whoever Banksy is, he does know of the Tauranga street art festival, Mr Shaw says.

They've never met, but Mr Shaw admits Banksy has expressed an interest in ensuring his art stays freely available to the public.

Also as part of the festival, seven walls across the city will be painted by street artists.

In Tauranga, 22 percent of the population are over the age of 60 - that's much higher than the national average of 15 percent.

The festival's being called a paradox, but street art and the older generation might not be such a contradiction after all.

"I think it's sometimes very interesting if it's in the right places," one resident told Newshub.

The works that popped up on Tauranga walls in December last year have been confirmed as more pranksy than Banksy, but the real thing will be on display until mid-June.