"Fantastic!" was Whangarei Art Museum Trust chairwoman Sharon Morgan's reaction to the Lottery Grants Board providing $500,000 more for the Hundertwasser Art Centre (HAC) construction project.

"This grant has brought us so much closer to the $5 million target the trust had set for non-ratepayer contributions for this $13 million project," she said.

The grant lifted the money in hand to a total of $4.5 million - $2 million from corporate and private benefactors, $2 million from the Lottery Grants Board's Significant Project Fund in March and now $500,000 this week from the Board's WWI Commemorations, Environment and Heritage committee.

The committee makes grants to organisations to foster the conservation, preservation and promotion of New Zealand's natural, physical and cultural heritage with a focus on WWI commemorations and projects of national significance.


Department of Internal Affairs' advisor Neil Williams said a Whangarei Art Museum application aligned well with Lottery Grants Board outcomes and the committee's cultural heritage priorities and funding criteria.

Ms Morgan, who is also Whangarei's deputy mayor, said she was now sure the finance required would be found for the Hundertwasser project to proceed.

Another trustee, Grant Faber, said he was confident the remaining funding gap of just $500,000 would be closed with ease as trustees knew a number of donors were only waiting to see the Whangarei District Council (WDC) uphold its commitment to the project before they finally pledged their contributions.

The chair of the Whangarei Hundertwasser Art Centre Maori Advisory Panel, Elizabeth Ellis, of Auckland, said the latest grant brought closer the goal of building the Hundertwasser Arts Centre and first-ever Wairau Maori Art Gallery as a cultural magnet in the North.

"We are unwavering in the pursuit of our grass roots initiative and from today have only $500,000 left to find," she said.

Both Ms Morgan and Ms Ellis said they were grateful to national groups such as the Lottery Grants Board whose grants increase their determination to establish the cultural centre.

A telephone survey of 1000 Whangarei residents to gauge public opinion about the Hundertwasser Arts Centre project is continuing, with the results expected to be known this month.

Once the survey, costing $17,065, is completed, the results will go to the full council for consideration.