Hundertwasser centre off/on again

Whangarei Hundertwasser Art Centre

Just days after the Whangarei District Council decided to dump its controversial Whangarei Hundertwasser Art Centre plans, a local business group hopes to revive the concept.

Whangarei District Council members voted 8-6 on Wednesday to dump the project – designed by the late Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser who lived in the area for some years –which would have revived the old Northland Harbour Board building at the Town Basin.

The project was to have been built with $8 million of ratepayer funding and $5 million from other sources. Funding from those other sources finally reached target last week.

The Vienna-based Hundertwasser Foundation, which controls the artist's works, gave its permission for the design to be used but more recently it withdrew the permission over council and general public bickering over the centre.

But now Whangarei Economic Development Group chairman Barry Trass and a group of business leaders, individuals and community members are trying to raise the money privately and may also seek government help. The group has also been seeking permission from the foundation.

The district council decision on Wednesday followed a council-run telephone survey of the district that found 28% of respondents supported the project, with 53% opposed and 19% either not sure or not leaning either way.

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