Save the Hundertwasser Gallery in Whangarei

I am seeking people to support a letter to the Whangarei District Councillors that are attempting to kill of the Hundertwasser Art Gallery Project in a council meeting tomorrow.  Please read this description and details are below.

A long planned (and debated) gallery designed by the late international Artist Hundertwasser is in danger of being dumped by the Whangarei District Council after some Councillors have put forward a proposal to remove it from the annual plan.  Their logic in doing this is that people have not been consulted about the project, yet they are trying to remove it from a document that will go for public consultation.

This is a project that offers huge financial and cultural opportunity for Whangarei, it has been supported by the last two mayoral candidates, the two sitting northland MPs Phil Heatley and Shane Jones (from both sides of the house) support the project.  Financial analysis of the project by Deloitte supports the councils position. A recent poll run by the local newspaper shows significant popular support for the project. And yet at a council meeting tomorrow a number of Councillors will attempt to vote this project out of the plan.

The total cost of the project is $13 million, of this the council has agreed to fund $8 million and a further $5 million will be raised seperately. $2 million of this amount has already being raised for the project.

One Councillor has stated that this money would be better spent on roads. To give a comparison the Wellsford to Puhoi road project is estimated to cost $760 million dollars, and the recently finished Te Matau a Pohe bridge cost $32 million dollars.

Another Councillor is worried this project will leave the WDC in a similar state to the Kaipara Council after that council misinvested in a sewerage project. The original budget for that project was $35 million and the total cost became $60 million. This is a small project compared to this and the construction of an art gallery is very predictable compared to a major sewerage system.

Spending $8 million on an Cultural project that will make Whangarei an international destination is a prudent decision and the current motion to cancel the project is unwise.

More about the project can be read here:

If you would like your name attached to a letter that I am sending to the council to reject the motion being put forward by the Councillors: “That the Hundertwasser project not be included in this year’s annual plan and that staff be instructed to remove all reference to the Hundertwasser project in forthcoming workshops and annual plan drafts.” as being undemocratic and unwise can you please email me tonight.

I will send the email first thing in the morning.  Can you please include your name and any fancy sounds positions you might hold. Also be great if you could say whether you grew up or had a connection to Whangarei.





  1. Please don’t cast this project aside. The scope for domestic and international tourism is enormous. We have an exciting opportunity to create an object of beauty and a resource that will be enjoyed for generations.

  2. Tricia says:

    It is in fact already an epic building.
    In fact, its an art deco building, built in 1922 (with a 1960’s extension which won architectural awards in its day), and the 2nd oldest publicly owned building in the town. It is the only original, authentic building at the Town Basin, which was built in mock Kolonial style. If Whg is to develop a sense of place, it seems deeply ironic to do this by destroying its cultural heritage by obliterating this building.
    This debate is not about art – I would happily support the building becoming Whangarei’s Arts Centre – gallery space etc et – all the things that ‘Hundertwasser’ proponents have added in to their initial concept. It’s about good, clean, transparent process (of which there has been little on this project over the last 7 years), and making sure that the decisions we make now will not risk being financial chains around future generations.
    I urge those who have are reading this to ensure they have ALL the facts, not just selective comments from a few biased proponents of the project.

  3. Barnaby Bennett says:

    Hi Tricia,

    Thanks for your contribution to this debate. I agree that the status of the building as it is at the moment has not being discussed enough.

    I hope that the WDC decision last week will lead to the transparent and open debate that this project deserves.

    I would however comment that accusing those who have different views to you as being biased is perhaps not the best way to encourage and facilitate open discussion.

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