Tauranga's royal invitation

By John Cousins

A royal stamp of approval has been sought for the $800,000 project to immortalise Hairy Maclary's loveable gang in bronze.

Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, has been invited to become patron of the sculptural project in which nine characters from the Hairy Maclary books will become a feature of Tauranga's downtown waterfront.

The request comes at the same time as Wellington artist Brigitte Wuest was busy creating the third character Hercules Morse, having finished the Hairy Maclary and Bottomley Potts sculptures.

The duchess' affection for the books, written and illustrated by Tauranga author Dame Lynley Dodd, was highlighted during Prince Charles and Camilla's recent visit to New Zealand when she saw the Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy show and met Dame Lynley.

Creative Tauranga head Tracey Rudduck-Gudsell said the invitation has been issued through the New Zealand Government and they were awaiting Camilla's response.

The duchess would become patron of a Tauranga project that honoured Dame Lynley and her contribution to the literary arts, Ms Rudduck-Gudsell said.

The project team was still aiming to have the sculptural installation in place by next July, to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the first publication of Hairy Maclary.

It would be a global celebration and it would be great for people around the world to realise that Dame Lynley was a New Zealander.

Publicity around the sculpture would correct the impression amongst a lot of overseas readers that Dame Lynley was an English author.

Royal recognition would also provide a timely boost for fundraising, which Ms Rudduck-Gudsell said was "going a bit slower than I would like".

They still had $500,000 to raise.

She said that in the current economic climate, fundraising for something heartwarming like Hairy Maclary was finding it tough against worthy causes like the Christchurch earthquake recovery and life threatening illnesses.

People can donate directly to Creative Tauranga or through the website www.givealittle.com and typing in Hairy Maclary.

People could also make an instant donation by texting hairyto306.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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