The future of a mural by Mervyn Taylor that once graced a wall of Masterton's Chief Post Office has again come under the spotlight.
Builders have erected framing in front of the mural with the intention of covering it with a wall to meet the needs of a new retail tenant.
But the building's owner, Lynnette Hall, has allayed fears the mural will be damaged in any way, saying the wall will protect it.
Mrs Hall said a space would exist between the new wall and the mural and any future tenant who wished to expose the mural would only need to remove the wall.
There had never been an intention to destroy or harm the mural, which had originally been an outdoor feature of the former post office entrance but, in later years, became part of indoor retail space.
When the shop was a chemist's the proprietors had covered the mural with a curtain but Mrs Hall said a new tenant wanted to use the wall space, hence the decision to cover the mural with a protective wall.
The mural's future was called into question four years ago when Dunedin artist Bryan James, biographer of Mervyn Taylor, wrote to the Times-Age seeking assurances the building's change of ownership would not mean the mural would be destroyed or neglected.
Mr James said Taylor, who died about 45 years ago, was a major figure in New Zealand art and the country's most important muralist.
The artist's granddaughter, Sarah Taylor, of Wellington, has contacted a Masterton friend, John Allan, expressing her dismay the mural is to be covered over.
Ms Taylor said it was "tragic. Don't they know they are covering up a national treasure, thank goodness it is protected."
The mural is on Masterton District Council's heritage list as a heritage item, but Mr Allan said he had been told that did not prevent it being covered.
A second Taylor mural is in the War Memorial Stadium.