Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Airport art bought from trust linked to director

Gregor Kregar's installation Fragmented Interactions adorns the sculpture park.
Gregor Kregar's installation Fragmented Interactions adorns the sculpture park.

Sculptures at Auckland Airport's new art walking trail were bought from an entity linked to one of the company's directors.

The company has disclosed in its latest annual report the genesis behind the purchase of the sculptures set among extensive native planting around a lake in Manukau at the airport.

"For the year ended 30 June 2013 the group agreed with Brick Bay Charitable Trust (which trades as Brick Bay Sculpture Trust) to purchase assets for $444,000 from that trust on an arms-length commercial basis without special privileges," the annual report said.

"Brick Bay Charitable Trust is a charitable trust and non-profit entity with revenue made by the trust used to assist New Zealand artists in meeting the expense of building outdoor artwork.

"The trustees of the Brick Bay Charitable Trust are Richard Didsbury and his wife, Christine Didsbury. Richard Didsbury is a director of Auckland International Airport."

Mark Thomson, the airport's general manager of property, said the parties involved were conscious of the need to act in the interests of shareholders.

"The transaction was completely transparent," said Thomson, who started in April, well after the sculpture park was set up.

"The reason the issue was flagged to me, and I made some inquiries about it, was because the sculpture park was up for an award," he said, referring to the NZ Property Council's annual event where prize-winners were announced this month.

The sculptures are set around a stormwater catchment lake to the left of George Bolt Memorial Drive, as people enter the airport precinct.

Thomson said the sculpture park was part of the airport's "place-making initiative", which has also seen the creation of the new events centre Abbeville Estate, development of a football field and a terraced, landscaped area near the sculpture park.

The airport company commissioned 10 sculptures for the park.

More art installations are being placed in other airport areas such as the terminal entry roundabout and in the Landing precinct.

- NZ Herald

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