Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Queens Wharf sculpture still a mystery

Queens Wharf in central Auckland. File photo / Greg Bowker
Queens Wharf in central Auckland. File photo / Greg Bowker

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Work is proceeding on a $1.5 million state house sculpture on Queens Wharf for which the public are being denied images and there has been no approval by the full council.

A 4.5 tonne crystal chandelier costing $705,000 is part of the state house sculpture by artist Michael Parekowhai that will be located at the end of Queens Wharf next year.

Design concepts of the two-thirds size model of a state house have been shared with councillors, but no images have been shared with the public.

In a media statement yesterday, the council said the public would not get to see any images until the sculpture was in a "more completed form". It did not say when that would be.

The sculpture arose from a $1 million gift to the city by real estate company Barfoot & Thompson to commemorate its 90th birthday last year.

Mayor Len Brown gave the project his full support and former council chief executive Doug McKay agreed to a ratepayer underwrite of up to $500,000 when the cost ballooned above $1 million.

Mr Brown, who is preparing sweeping cuts in a new 10-year budget, continues to back the project, saying the objective was for private donations to meet any shortfall not covered by the $1 million gift.

Barfoot managing director Peter Thompson said a decision to release images of the artwork was with council, saying the company was happy with where the project was at and sure there would be general discussion at some stage.

The sculpture has gone before the arts and culture committee on two occasions but never been approved by the governing body, or full council.

The public art policy states the concept, site and budget for regionally significant public works of art has to be approved by the governing body.

At a meeting on June 18, the committee delegated staff to complete the planning, detailed design, development and delivery of the "regionally significant work".

A council spokesman said the correct process had been followed, saying the committee's terms of reference gave it delegated authority for public art.

The terms of reference also state the committee cannot decide significant matters of high public interest and which are controversial.

- NZ Herald

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