Hairy Maclary and his eight bronze friends are not likely to appear on Tauranga's new-look waterfront before Easter, with the final $300,000 for the project still to be raised.
In September, the Bay of Plenty Times reported the statues could be in place near the children's playground by Christmas, but raising the funds has proven tougher than expected.
Creative Tauranga chief executive Tracey Rudduck-Gudsell said "not many" local businesses had contributed and fundraising for the $700,000 project been hampered by the financial climate and Canterbury quakes over the past three years. "It's been very hard in Tauranga."
In September, Tauranga City Council waived the $150,000 maintenance bond for the statues, which had brought the total to $850,000, but three months on they remain in storage in Wellington until the underwriter for the project is paid in full.
Ms Rudduck-Gudsell yesterday appealed to local businesses and funding organisations, including those who had been previously approached, to help push the project to completion.
Donors would have their name recognised at the site for the 100-year life expectancy of the sculptures.
"This is being done to gift to the city ... it's recognising the value of the literary arts and Dame Lynley Dodd," she said.
The statues would be a piece of public art for Tauranga, the kind readily found in New Plymouth, Wellington and Auckland, she said. "I still believe how fantastic it's going to be for our city. Once you get a great piece like this it inspires other public art to come to the city as we grow."
Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said given the improvement in the economic situation, he hoped funders and businesses would reconsider donating to the project.
"This thing is really going to be quite huge for Tauranga."
Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust chairman Michael Cooney said the organisation had donated seed funding of $30,000, with the understanding the remainder would come from the community. "That hasn't transpired, that would be the difficulty with any new application."
A $10,000 donation had also been made by Priority One, $5000 by PowerCo and three rotary clubs had donated a combined $60,000.
The sculptures, created by foundryman Jonathan Campbell, mouldmaker Marco Wuest and sculptor Brigitte Wuest, took just over a year to make. They will take four to six weeks to install on the waterfront.
Donations can be made at Creative Tauranga on Willow St, or by visiting www.givealittle.co.nz and searching for Hairy Maclary.