Hairy Maclary author Dame Lynley Dodd declared herself humbled and overwhelmed when statues of her world famous story book characters were opened on Tauranga's downtown waterfront today.

The gala occasion attended by Prime Minister John Key featured huge tributes to the perseverance of Creative Tauranga CEO Tracey Rudduck-Gudsell who led the five-year fundraising campaign to raise $660,00.

Dame Lynley told the 300-strong crowd that when she came down to The Strand to look at progress earlier this month, it suddenly hit her what all the effort and sheer hard work by so many people had been about.

"My book characters! It was a humbling and overwhelming moment."

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The nicest part of the process for her had been liaising with sculptor Brigitte Wuest who had took her two dimensional creations and re-created them in three, she said.

"Not an easy task for a sculptor."

Dame Lynley said they discussed ticklish things like portraying Bottomley Potts' spots on bronze, how to make the eyes come alive, whether or not Hairy Maclary's teeth would infringe OSH regulations and if Schnitzel von Krumm's pointy tail was likely to stab someone

"My characters seem now to have taken on a life of their own," she said.

"I'm getting used to the fact that I am just another member of Hairy Maclary's entourage, as proved by a recent flight to Australia.

"A flight attendant greeted me at the door off the plane with 'Are you Hairy Maclary?'. I was sorely tempted to give the obvious reply..." she said giving a loud bark.

Mr Key congratulated Dame Lynley for how her creations had enhanced the lives of young people in New Zealand and around the world. "I remember reading them to our children."

People will come from all over New Zealand and around the world to see the statues. "I look forward to reading the books again some time soon."