Business people in Whangarei are rallying to save the Hundertwasser Art Centre project.
The district council this week voted to abandon its plans for the $13 million building designed by the late Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
Whangarei Economic Development Group chairperson Barry Trass said business people were appalled at the council's backward move.
He said the group would now work to raise money from the private sector and put a solid proposal to the Hundertwasser Foundation in Vienna.
"The reality is the public are saying they don't want to fund the project to the extent that it was originally proposed, so if we can provide more funding from the private sector I'm sure it will be a lot more palatable."
Mr Trass said a website had also been created to enable people to contribute.
But the agent for the Vienna-based Hundertwasser Foundation Richard Smart said they may be too late.
"At this point the foundation is very disenchanted with Whangarei District Council and it would take a lot to revive it, essentially this project is now ended."