Hundertwasser: Candidates have their say

Local government candidates have their say on Hundertwasser.
Local government candidates have their say on Hundertwasser.


I do not support the Hundertwasser project.

Partly because for benefit of the wider community, there are better ways to spend $8 million of ratepayers' money.

Partly because, in my opinion, aesthetically I don't think it belongs in the Town Basin environment.

Mostly because few people I know think it is something we need or they want here in Whangarei.


I have weighed up the pros and cons and personally like the project, but this is not an issue I or the councillors should decide alone - everyone should have a say.

This issue is about more than money - it's also about art and personal taste, and our city's identity. That's why I supported a motion for a referendum on this issue.

Unfortunately, a majority of councillors didn't.

As your new Mayor, I will trust ratepayers. I will hold a referendum so the community can decide whether it wants the HAC. It will include important issues like who would pay for it, should it proceed? Should residential ratepayers or commercial ratepayers pay, or both? If both, how should the burden be split?

These are the issues that need to be debated so citizens can make a fully informed decision. I will bring the local back to local government.


I voted against the Hundertwasser proposal.

Initially I thought it had merit and was worth exploring as I strongly supported the original idea mooted in 1993 by colleagues of mine and friends of the artist.

But the world moves on.

Neither the original proponents nor wider general community voiced support for the modern proposal.

Informal polls identified a firm opposition majority.

The business community recently began promoting the HAC but as far as I can tell without a "scientific" poll, the general view is still opposed.

My role is to represent the community view. Accordingly I will continue to vote against unless a solid majority of those paying for it and suffering the consequences communicates a change of heart. Our economy is too fragile for council to go on spending tangents without a strong ratepayer mandate.

If it proceeds I will work to ensure opportunities for local artisans.


Ask yourself are you being told the whole story about the project or just some of the building costs. This is a $30 million plus project.

The economic boost is exaggerated. It's less than one thousandth of Northland's gross domestic product and one six hundredth of the total generated by Northland's dairy and beef industry.

Given our debt, further ratepayer spending on non-essentials is unacceptable.

Better to reduce debt, or spend the budgeted "$8 million" so we get a government roading subsidy and have $22 million to spend on our grossly underfunded infrastructure. That's real economic benefit and employment.

I believe the Hundertwasser project will turn out to be much more expensive than the allocated funds permit.

When too few people pay to go to the Hundertwasser, the ongoing operational losses will have to be met from our existing budget for art, culture and heritage.

Maori artifacts should be displayed in the long proposed Maori Cultural Centre at Hihiaua.


The HAC must be built for its benefits for our community, but should not be built at the cost of higher debt.

I assure you it can be built with outside investment and without spending more ratepayers' money. The arts community strongly desires it for its boost for culture and creativity, but I make no apology for wanting the jobs and economic benefits it brings.

We desperately need work in Whangarei to solve some of our problems and keep families together. Hundertwasser and the new hotel which will follow mean 100 jobs. We desperately need to bring extra spending into our local economy, and the tourists who will stop in Whangarei instead of bypassing it will do that.

Whangarei will become a destination known for creativity, a clean environment and a sense of style, and the growth in employment means we will be a healthier and safer community.


The short-term development to stimulate growth most is the HAC with its leading Maori Art Gallery. It would provide 75 construction jobs and 35 jobs once operational.

We can operate Hundertwasser at $750k annually - covered by sales. That is the annual turnover of the Matakohe Kauri Museum.

It will attract visitors to the CBD. It will be a catalyst for a four-star hotel and attract cruise ships to Marsden Point. It will be a unique point of difference bringing jobs, opportunities and tourism. Over the years many businesses have closed - this is a new opportunity for jobs through tourism.

The council contribution is comparable to funds invested in any one of other soft infrastructure projects, like the athletics/ gymnastics complex, the events centre or the new sports fields.

Yes to Hundertwasser for me provided we secure external funding required and the new council votes "yes".


Clearly this Austrian folly has taken on religious proportions, being presented as our only salvation. The influence anyone would have restraining its momentum is unclear, with the combined fanaticism and propaganda of council and commercial supporters. It's divided our community, stolen our election, distracted us from other issues.

The figures I've studied seem somewhat contrived, providing no clear recommendation to proceed. Much misinformation has accompanied the support for this building and the almost divine role it will play. The disregard of public opinion is at the core of the issues surrounding this proposal. The flawed, biased handling thus far makes a compelling argument for seeking a complete purging of council this election.

I will vigorously oppose this project. That said my position is less important than the consensus of our people. I'll support a democratic resolution if a leadership "no" is not sufficient to conclude this Hundertwasser nonsense.


If you want a yes or a no over the HAC, then you are asking the wrong question. Rather, we should ask; why make it a council project at all?

There is no question this will be a unique and captivating building with potential to bring more visitors to Whangarei. But can council afford it? I think not.

Too often people look to council to build projects. Council's role is to give support and ensure services to projects are available, not building and running them. Matakohe Museum, Packard Museum, the Lion Park, the Hihiaua Project and even the new Oncology Unit, are all privately funded projects.

Council can still support the HAC as a privately funded project. If the Hundertwasser was funded and managed privately, where the profit/losses were not council's, would the public support it? Most times I've asked this question, the response has been yes.


Our community is so divided over the Hundertwasser Art Centre issue. I am no longer sure whether it is the project or the process that is really the problem.

We need to talk. We need a robust business case.

I say "No" to more ratepayer funds than already budgeted.

No project will work unless there is genuine consensus.

I see two great Town Basin projects.

The Hihiaua Cultural Centre has been planned for many years. It will be a place of learning for young Maori, and a place for cultural exchange and exhibitions.

Young artists will be inspired and perhaps influenced by the quality of Maori art exhibited in the HAC.

We actually could have it all here. It's time for a change of leadership style, and for us to start working for the kind of town we've all been waiting for with a positive attitude.
Whangarei - Love it Here!


The WDC art and culture policy makes mention of the project eight times and, the way it is written, the Hundertwasser will be built.

A committee has been set up to find the extra $5 million needed.

Council has committed $8 million to the project.

The secretive and undemocratic process chosen by the 2007-2010 council has unnecessarily divided our community.

We need something to stimulate the local economy and the council may have been pleasantly surprised at the support if they had been open about it from the start.

My view: we should have spent the money supporting the Hihiaua Art and Culture Centre.

It has the potential to deliver the economic opportunities the Hundertwasser offers but, more importantly, makes more sense; it adds to the sense of place, sense of people and an opportunity to recognise our Maori heritage at a local level.


The HAC has created community division that could have been avoided. Any project for Whangarei needs people on board from the start and should be community initiated with Whangarei people having choices. Projects must go through open, honest processes.

I don't believe council has done this with a number of projects and this can result in resistance to new ideas. Council must be held responsible for the negativity in this project for lack of community input.

I understand a large group of business and other interested parties are working on securing donations and funding. This may well be a solution. From the many we have spoken to, ratepayers do not want on-going expenses falling on them. In my opinion, from taking many people's comments on board, I believe there should be no further costs imposed on residents and ratepayers.

So it's a NO, if ratepayers have to pay.


Hundertwasser offers many opportunities, money through tourism, employment, local money spent locally in construction.

Its timing is questionable, however.

The community seems discontented as it is a major issue. I feel worry from the community. And this worry can cause both sides to loathe the other.

I ask for calmness. Resolution should be our focus.

Now that I have weighed the options I make my point of view.

Hundertwasser fell in love with our little part of the world. He gave so much to the community and the Kawakawa rest rooms are the testimony to that. He inspires us all.

I believe his spiritual look on community is not being displayed by us as a community.

That to me means unworthiness. To cash in on this deceased man smacks with disrespect.

I believe if we are to honour Hundertwasser then celebrate with an art festival in his honour each year.

- Northern Advocate

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