More than 200 people gathered in Havelock North for the unveiling of a new sculpture this afternoon.

Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy unveiled Paul Dibble's The Garden 2002, which stands nearly 4m, outside the Havelock North i-Site at 3pm.

Dibble installed the work the night before and stayed for the ceremony with his wife Fran.

The sculpture had previously raised concerns among some residents about the size, lack of public consultation and nature of the work, depicting a nude female torso (from navel to knees).

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However, Dame Patsy Reddy said public sculptures like this give everyone access to art.

"I have no doubt that over the years the people of Havelock North will develop a sense of community ownership of this sculpture."

The position of the work in Havelock North's town centre also maximised visibility, she said.

"It's a delight to be here in Hawke's Bay and I'm delighted to have an opportunity to celebrate arts and culture."

Dibble said the sculpture suited the area.

"It looks good, it's well located and it adds greatly to the character and ambiance of Havelock North."

"Havelock North is basically a giant fruit bowl, quite appropriate in this situation."

Havelock North resident Isobel Holdaway said she wasn't a fan of this particular work but liked many of Dibble's sculptures.

"I know Paul Dibble's work, I love a lot of his work but not this one.

"I can see the significance with Hawke's Bay.

"I don't think the location is good, you can't see it very well, it would have been better on the roundabout but it's good to see Paul Dibble's work here."

However another resident Venessa Leeuw said she didn't understand the sculpture's relevance to the area.

"I think they probably could have put in something more meaningful to Havelock North."

Havelock North resident Jennifer Gibson echoed the same sentiments about the sculpture.

"I don't understand it. I would appreciate it more if it had more meaning to Hawke's Bay."

Hastings woman Di Mackie said she had no concerns about the nudity of the artwork, adding she particularly liked the sculpture's golden apple.

"Would you rather it were a man with his appendages? The female form is far more beautiful."

Dawn Groom, of Havelock North, said the sculpture had brightened up the area.

"I think that it's quite impressive. It's in a good position, you can see it when you drive past."

"I just hope that nobody comes and vandalises it, a lot of effort has gone into it."

Havelock North resident Frances New said the sculpture was "a bit different" but she liked it.

Another resident, Wayne King, said when he heard of the location of the sculpture he was unsure it would have enough space to be fully appreciated but was pleasantly surprised.

"There's a good amount of space.

"I've always liked Paul Dibble, seeing it up close for the first time, I like it."

The sculpture is a bronze torso (navel to knees) with a gilded apple, which will be lit at night.

The work, which has an estimated market value of about $180,000, has been purchased by the MTG Foundation, using a donation from the Mills Family Charitable Trust.

HDC supported the installation by making the site available and ensuring the construction work enhanced its setting for the maximum benefit of the public.