The crowd is being called on to get behind Whangarei's biggest science project - an art piece which will teach people about light and the origins of photography.

Such a device is called a "camera obscura" and photographer Diane Stoppard, architect Felicity Christian and sculptor Trish Clark want to build one measuring 8m as an attraction on the Hatea Loop walkway.

But they need help and are about to launch a crowd-funding campaign to get the $500,000 interactive sculpture across the line.

They hope to raise $20,000 from online crowd-funding.


"It's all full steam ahead and we need to generate a percentage of funds from the community," Ms Stoppard said.

"When we go for big funding applications it's important to show that there is community support."

A camera obscura is the optical device that led to photography and consists of a room or box with a hole in one side. Light from outside passes through the hole and strikes the walls inside, where the external scene is reproduced upside down.

The iteration the trio have dreamed up over the past two years will be positioned on the Riverside side of the Hatea Loop to show a projection of Te Matau A Pohe bridge.

The group had been given permission to use this site by Whangarei District Council. The camera obscura was believed to be the first of its kind in the country.

The design concept includes $46,000 of curved weathering steel donated by Culham Engineering and representing a ship's hull, an aluminium laser-cut wrap, echoing the river and harbour's maritime history and a spiral white roof which suggests the aperture of a camera and the form of the river snail.

The crowd-funding campaign will be launched on Thursday, November 3 at 6pm with a video being made to teach people about the idea.