The dream of a Hundertwasser art centre for Whangarei is now almost certain to come true, courtesy of a big grant from Lotteries.
Prosper Northland, the trust raising funds for the project, needed over $18 million by the end of June to gain the go-ahead from the Whangarei District Council.
The trust's chair, Barry Trass, said the Lotteries Commission had approved a $3.5m grant from its significant projects fund - and his team was elated.
That would get the Hundertwasser centre over the line as far as council consent was concerned, and that was the major hurdle, he said.
"We're very excited; we just had notification this morning that Lotteries has given us the money," he said.
"That brings us up to $18.6m, which is very close to what we need, so it's fantastic."
Mr Trass said the Hundertwasser project, which would include the country's first dedicated Māori fine arts gallery, was still short of $3m to cover increased building costs.
But he said there had been a big surge in public support as the deadline approached.
Prosper Northland was now waiting on its final bid for funding support, from a government heritage fund.