The head of one of the world's most influential advertising and branding agencies says a Hundertwasser-designed arts centre in Whangarei is a no-brainer.

An Auckland-based property developer has also said his company's proposed investment in Whangarei - an upmarket hotel on a Riverside Drive site opposite the Town Basin and currently housing old boat sheds - is "entirely contingent" on the Hundertwasser Wairau Maori Art Centre proposal going ahead.

New York-based executive chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, New Zealander Kevin Roberts said he has no doubts about the value of the proposed development at the Town Basin site.

On his blog, now linked to the YES! website, Mr Roberts said the HWMAC would distinguish Northland on the world stage - "In the process instantly transforming the locale into a tourism magnet."


"City branding does not generally happen overnight, and artistic and economic opportunities like this are rare. This referendum vote is a no-brainer from my perspective," Mr Roberts said.

Meanwhile, property developer Andrew Fonagy said "a Hundertwasser win will be the clincher for making a high-end hotel viable in Whangarei".

"I have an option on a significant piece of land in Whangarei, close to town and ideal for top-end accommodation or a similar development," Mr Fonagy said.

"If Hundertwasser is to go ahead, we'll immediately move into the next stage of the due diligence process and be able to confidently continue discussions with our investor groups and hotel operators.

"If it's 'no' to Hundertwasser, there is frankly no point. Whangarei won't have that big concept and destination attraction that investors are looking for and we'll look elsewhere."

Northland Economic Action Group has also put its name where its vote is.

"Whangarei and Northland desperately needs economic growth and additional employment. We need more strings to our bow," chairman Graham Dawson said. "The Hundertwasser project is low hanging fruit in terms of providing an increase in economic activity."

Co-owner of the Riverside Drive site, Ian Moratti, confirmed he and other business interests had been negotiating with developer Andrew Fonagy for some time.


A Hotel Feasibility Report by Whangarei District Council and the Ngatiwai Trust states Whangarei is not matching other centres in initiatives that encourage private investment.