The Provincial Growth Fund will invest an additional $4.5 million in the Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery in Whangarei, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones have announced.
“The Hundertwasser Art Centre was identified by the region as a priority cultural and tourism project and its opening will be a realisation of a community vision, more than 25 years in the making. It is going to be a huge draw card for visitors to this region,” Mr Peters said.
“The centre is unlike anything else under construction in New Zealand. It is considered a work of art in itself, with complex curved lines and intricate engineering that needs to accommodate a heavily afforested roof to add to its intricacy, and as with most building projects, unforeseen complications have impacted costs which were not anticipated despite planning.
Additional costs have included seismic strengthening, asbestos removal from the old building which previously occupied the site, deeper pilings being required, and design changes due to new building rules coming in after the Kaikoura earthquake.
The art centre will house two galleries. The first is not just unique to New Zealand but unique to the world as the only gallery outside of Austria to house a permanent display of artist Friedrich Hundertwasser’s art, worth millions of dollars. The Wairau Maori Art Gallery will become the national home to the best examples of contemporary Māori art.
“The art centre is estimated to bring in an economic benefit of $26 million to the region and more than 250,000 visitors to Whangarei annually, in line with the number of visitors the Hundertwasser toilets attract in Kawakawa,” Mr Jones said.
“With this increased activity happening in the region comes an exceptional opportunity for job growth, and for economic, social and cultural revitalisation. There are currently 65 people working on the project right now.”
The PGF provided $13.9m towards the centre’s construction in late 2018. The art centre’s construction is budgeted to cost $33.2 million. Additional funding was raised through a combination of local and central government investment, along with private donations and community fundraising.
The Hundertwasser Art Centre – Wairau Māori Art Gallery is scheduled for completion in late 2021.