Nearly a third of the $800,000 needed to fund Tauranga's Hairy Maclary waterfront sculpture has been raised.
Tauranga MP Simon Bridges this week announced that the Government had given $150,000 towards the bronze sculpture of the nine storybook characters who star in Dame Lynley Dodd's much-loved books.
Creative Tauranga chief executive Tracey Rudduck-Gudsell, who heads the project, said a further $110,552.10 had also been raised.
Seed funding of $30,000 had been given by TECT and $60,000 from three Tauranga Rotary Clubs.
An anonymous Tauranga businessman had given $20,000 in memory of his mother, who was a school teacher and read the Hairy Maclary books to her students.
And the Brann Family Trust, of Paengaroa, had donated $500.
Ms Rudduck-Gudsell's step-daughter Kayla Gudsell, 10, and her friend Kendall Giles, 10, had raised $52.10 at a children's market, which had also gone into the funding pool.
"In-kind" sponsorship had also been received from several Tauranga businesses, she added.
The $400,000 needed to build the sculpture itself had been underwritten by a Tauranga business, allowing leading New Zealand sculptor Brigitte Wuest, of Weta Workshop, to begin working on it on Monday.
The other $400,000 would cover engineering, installation and maintenance of the sculpture over its lifetime, Ms Rudduck-Gudsell said.
"Obviously, a lot of sponsorship proposals ... we haven't had the proposals back yet. The government grant may give a real push with credibility around the project," she said.
"I'm working very hard to get funding in as hard as I can because I want the project finished ... I think I'll bawl when they finally unveil it. I've spent six years of my life dreaming about it."
It was hoped the sculpture would be in place by the end of the year.
"I would like it to be ready for the cruise-ship market," she said.
She remained hopeful of a royal unveiling. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall have been invited to unveil the completed sculpture while on their trip to New Zealand this year.
"We're still live on their itinerary wish list. I've not been told 'no'. The cabinet office told me it's one of the best invites," she said.