21 Feb 2017

Whangarei's Hundertwasser gallery close to a done deal

8:16 pm on 21 February 2017

The Northland Regional Council has approved funding of $1.5 million for a Hundertwasser art gallery.

A model of the proposed Hundertwasser Art Centre in Whangarei.

A model of the proposed Hundertwasser Art Centre in Whangarei (file) Photo: SUPPLIED

The grant from the council's investment and reserve fund takes total funding for the project to $14.5m - making it almost certain the $16m building will go ahead.

Hundertwasser supporters, who packed the public seats for the crucial debate this morning, applauded and many wept with relief when the vote was taken.

One councillor, John Bain, opposed the grant, saying it should be a loan.

The building at Whangarei's Town Basin will contain original Hundertwasser artwork on loan from Vienna and a Māori fine art gallery.

Northland Regional Council chair Bill Shepherd said the grant from the council's investment and growth fund would help get the gallery over the line by making it eligible for further government funding.

He said the development would benefit the whole of the north, not just Whangarei.

"It's got a whole lot of potential to bring a whole lot of additional visitor traffic into the region, and when we align that with a lot of the other initiatives that we're working on, like improving the highways and so forth, it's really got the potential to be a totally unique point of difference for Whangarei and Northland."

The Prosper Northland Trust said it needed the council's support to be eligible for additional Ministry for Culture and Heritage funding.

The trust now has 90 percent of the money it will take to build the art gallery.

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