The Mayor of Wellington is unable to give an assurance that the centrepiece of a new waterfront landmark will be in place for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
An $11.5 million wharewaka (canoe house) will be officially opened in a dawn ceremony on Sunday.
But the city's waka Te Raukura will not be in the premises because Hutt Valley Maori who have been restoring and housing it are refusing to release it.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown says she is unclear about the exact reasons and is not putting any dates on when the waka will arrive.
The Wharewaka o Poneke Charitable Trust says Sunday's opening will not be overshadowed by the absence and a stand-in waka will be brought in from Bay of Plenty.