Hundertwasser Centre realises 30-year dream

A thirty year project to construct the Hundertwasser Art Centre in Whangarei will be realised with its public opening today. 

Regional Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash says the government-financed project is a tribute to the dreams, hard work, perseverance and fund-raising efforts of thousands of Kiwis, Austrians and global supporters of Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s vision.

“The stunning new Hundertwasser Art Centre and Wairau Māori Art Gallery is a work of art to house works of art,” said Stuart Nash. 

“Hundertwasser disliked straight lines and preferred irregular and uneven designs. That is reflected in the journey to opening day, which has been far from straightforward.

“The idea for a Hundertwasser art gallery was first proposed in 1992 but construction didn’t begin till June 2018. The project employed over 500 people and was a major contributor to the Whāngarei economy through COVID-19. 

“The unique and creative building cost more than $33 million. It was delivered after Government investment of $18.5 million from the Provincial Growth Fund with the balance from local councils, charities, community fundraising and private donations.

“The project employed local architects, designers, project managers and builders. Skilled plasterers, tilers and bricklayers faithfully realised Hundertwasser’s trademark details on the striking façade. The eight-metre-high gold cupola on the roof is another signature feature of his architecture.

“Hundertwasser’s ecological beliefs and the flora of Te Tai Tokerau are reflected in the work of local horticulturalists and gardeners. The building’s distinctive look includes a highly engineered roof planted in native trees and shrubs from a Tutukaka nursery.

“The building not only features a permanent display of 80 of the artist’s works, it provides a unique platform for contemporary Māori artists curated entirely by tangata whenua.

“It has transformed Whāngarei’s former Harbour Board building into a distinctive art centre. Alongside the unique public loos in Kawakawa, these are the only examples of his architecture in the Southern Hemisphere.   

“I urge Kiwis to put this on their bucket-list of ‘must visit’ sites. As we prepare to welcome back international visitors the Hundertwasser Art Centre and Wairau Māori Art Gallery will be another fantastic draw-card for the Northland region,” said Stuart Nash.