After 14 years of blood, sweat and a few tears, it was about time for Whangārei's rolling ball clock to be unveiled to the public in all its working glory.
The ball clock - more a piece of precision engineering than a simple timepiece - was formally unveiled and switched on yesterday morning, in a public ceremony attended by more than 200 people, including dignitaries, the About Time Team that ran the project, and workers from Absolute Stainless who constructed it.
The original plan for the rolling ball clock started in 2008 as a plan to increase patronage to the Claphams Clock Museum. Yesterday it opened right beside the museum to add a working piece of precision engineering to the site. It also shows the time, the phases of the moon and the Milky Way and is aligned to Maramataka, the Māori lunar calendar.
About Time Team project manager Warren Thomas said there was a mixture of pride and relief to see the sculpture running perfectly in situ yesterday after 14 years of hard work and dedication.
Thomas said it was a tremendous example of what could be done when people worked together, and described the structure as a time machine, more of a kinetic sculpture that also told the time.
''Now I can't wait to see what it looks like at night, it's going to be spectacular.''
Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai said the timepiece was a great addition to the Town Basin and was the best of the attractions there.
Mai said it was a piece of precision engineering that was a unique and iconic addition to the city.
Funding came from a Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) grant of $750,000, plus $110,000 from the Whangarei District Council Community Funding and the About Time committee's own fundraising of $100,000. Donations, labour and gifted materials came to $75,000.
Former MP Shane Jones, who gave the PGF funding said it was a testament to a great bunch of people to get the project off the ground and to completion.
Thomas said there had been a few hiccups along the way, but it was amazing to finally see the hopes and dreams come to fruition.
And judging by the reaction from the crowd in attendance yesterday, the ball clock will be a popular attraction.
But perhaps the best response came from Rex, the long-haired Jack Russell who wagged his tail and barked along to the balls as they rolled past him.
Thomas said dogs seemed to love the structure; they either sat and watched patiently or barked excitedly like Rex.
The ball clock will run from 9am to 9pm daily.
"It needs power to run and we thought it's no use wasting power at 3am in the morning when nobody's around so thought we'd time the 9am starting time to the opening of Claphams Clocks," Thomas said.
Thomas said there would also be a live internet feed on the team's Facebook page so people could log in and watch the ball clock in action.