The initial work on the camera obscura site in central Whangarei is under way.

The camera obscura will be built on the Port Rd side of the Hatea Loop and show a projection of Te Matau a Pohe.

The ground has to be prepared and then a foundation pad laid on the site which will sit there for six months and slowly compress the ground to ensure it is strong enough to hold the camera obscura.

Read more: Whangarei's Camera Obscura project inching closer to reality

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Local contractors United Civil Construction and Winstone Aggregates have donated 100 per cent of these site works.

One of the project's three organisers, Diane Stoppard, was on site shortly after work started this week to document the first stage of work.

She said the mangroves growing in the Hatea River had also been culled so the obscura's view of the Te Matau o Pohe was clear.

"Before you couldn't see the bridge, now you can see the bridge and the river and it's great."

So far, 51 per cent, or $445,000 of the total $860,000 plus GST cost of the project has been raised through donations from the public, contractors, local businesses and Whangarei District Council.

The project team had applied to two different funding agencies for the remaining funds and were hoping to hear back from the first of those "any day".

It is hoped construction will start in late August/early September once the total cost had been raised.

The site work was planned to be carried out late last month, but was delayed to fit around other work the contractors had scheduled.

A camera obscura is the optical device that led to photography and consists of a room or box with a hole in one side. Light from outside passes through the hole and strikes the walls inside, where the external scene is reproduced upside down.