Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Funding for roundabout sculpture confirmed

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An artist's impression of the new sculpture set to go in on the new Hemo Gorge roundabout.
An artist's impression of the new sculpture set to go in on the new Hemo Gorge roundabout.

Rotorua Lakes Council has agreed to underwrite costs for a "stunning" sculpture at Rotorua's southern entrance, but there are hopes ratepayers may not end up paying a cent for the 12m high artwork.

Councillors today voted unanimously to underwrite a possible shortfall in funding for the stainless steel artwork to be installed in the middle of the Hemo Gorge roundabout, currently under construction opposite Te Puia.

They were also updated on estimated costs for the sculpture and were assured safety concerns had also been taken into account, in that there were plenty of places for people to park near the roundabout and that walkways and cycleways would ensure people could get close to it without having to cross the busy road.

The revised estimate for the cost of the sculpture, designed by New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute artist Stacy Gordine, had also gone down, according to the council's strategy and partnerships group manager Jean-Paul Gaston.

He said initial estimates for a total cost of $570,000 had been reduced to $500,000, that also included a $50,000 contingency for cost overruns, but did not include a pledge from a local person or organisation of $15,000 that was yet to be confirmed.

The revised budget would see the New Zealand Transport Agency stump up $200,000, the council $150,000 and Te Puia $50,000, leaving another $100,000 to be sought from various community and arts trusts, or private individuals who would like to contribute.

The majority of councillors said they were impressed by the design and the work council staff, artists, the transport agency and the institute had done to get the project to this stage and were pleased it would become a reality.

However, councillor Charles Sturt said he wanted to challenge Rotorua's arts and philanthropic communities to cover all of the costs for the sculpture so ratepayers "would not have to spend a bean" on the project.

Mayor Steve Chadwick said she supported Mr Sturt's call and had already been speaking with individuals and organisations about possible funding.

The council's community arts adviser Marc Spijkerbosch said the stunning sculpture was an exciting prospect for the district and would be a memorable addition to the area.

"These opportunities don't come along often. It will also look sensational at night with LED lighting ... it's a perfect fit," he said.

Mr Gaston said the sculpture should be installed by July.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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