The building of Hundertwasser's folly building - Te Kakano - is underway at Whangarei's Town Basin.
The koru-shaped building which will house a seating area, will be constructed on the grassed area across the service lane between the former harbour board building and public park.
As is traditional for Hundertwasser's buildings, the folly allows local craftspeople and builders to master the construction techniques necessary for the Hundertwasser Art Centre. Hundertwasser project action team construction manager Greg Guy said all work would be contained inside a fenced area and there would be minimal to no disruption for Town Basin users.
"We've already taken soil off the top of the site and located services. Next week will be the official handover to the builders," Mr Guy said.
Hundertwasser project team leader Andrew Garratt said the start of the $300,000 build was exciting and "a sign of progress". The 16-week construction of Te Kakano would use local tradespeople, including expertise from the build of Kawakawa's Hundertwasser toilets. Te Kakano - about 6 metres in diameter - was designed to be an attraction in its own right, regardless of whether the Art Centre went ahead.
The Art Centre project team had raised more than $10 million of the $16.25 million required by June next year for the centre to proceed. They were confident the full amount would be raised. The group had set up a new "Hundertwasser HQ" on Cameron St, around the corner from their old James St premises. This served as a fundraising base and had information for the public about the project.
Meanwhile, a Whangarei widower who recently donated over $7000 in his wife's name toward the Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Maori Art Gallery said the donation "is keeping her spirit alive."
Alison Turner died suddenly at 57 while scaling Rangitoto with husband Huw six years ago. Initially Mr Turner considered creating a scholarship to support a designer, in his wife's name.
But last month Mr Turner instead gave $7200 from his wife's estate to the HAC project. Mr Turner said Alison, an actress and proprietor of Whangarei's Alter Ego Costume Hire, had been an admirer of Hundertwasser for over 20 years. She trained in the UK as a graphic designer, worked in stained glass and was a talented costume designer and maker. Waipu's Art N Tartan Wearable Arts Supreme Award trophy is named in her honour.
"She loved colour, she loved shapes, she loved the boundary-breaking nature of [Hundertwasser's approach]," Mr Turner said.
"It feels good to get behind the project with our spare cash. Also it feels like a good way to honour her memory."
Mr Turner said Alison, who would be 64 this year, would have volunteered on the HAC project were she still alive. "Donating is the next best thing. I'll be getting involved in volunteering for her. Her spirit is out there, I know that."