A new grant of $1.8 million for the Hundertwasser Arts Centre project brings the money in the bag to only 20 per cent short of the target.

Sitting comfortably now on just under $13m, the HAC and Wairau Maori Art Gallery fundraising team is confident of nailing the required $16.25m before the June 2017 use-it or lose-it deadline.

What's more, spokesman Barry Trass said, with the kind of thumbs-up given by the $1.8m Foundation North (formerly ASB Community Trust) "Places Fund", other funders and donors will feel more confident and inspired to come to the party, too.

The opening later this month of the trial-run build and training pod called Te Kakano at the Town Basin is also likely to spark more donor and funder enthusiasm, Mr Trass said.

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The grant announced over the weekend recognises the community aspect of the project, HAC fundraising team leader Helen Whittaker said.

"It is great to have another major entity alongside central government who has assessed and positively endorsed the project," she said.

"It is the community aspect of the project that is now driving funders like Foundation North to want to help us. Community is a very important word out there and that is what the HAC project is now all about".

The $1.8m is a significant contribution to a project that will provide Whangarei and Northland with two world class art galleries, Ms Whittaker said.

The Wairau Gallery will be the first dedicated and curated contemporary Maori art gallery in New Zealand, and will showcase in particular artists from Te Tai Tokerau.

The Hundertwasser Gallery will contain over 50 original pieces on loan from Vienna and will be only the second place in the world where Hundertwasser's art can be viewed publicly.