The Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Maori Art Gallery project's facts and figures are under the microscope.

Whangarei District Council chief executive Rob Forlong told councillors at a meeting on Thursday the council is undergoing a verification process to check that the fundraising and underwriting of the building meet the conditions set out in the binding referendum in 2015.

The announcement by Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry in mid-June that the Government would grant up to $3 million from the Regional Culture and Heritage Fund towards the project, took the total raised to $21.7m, over the revised total of $20.97m required.

At the same announcement, Whangarei Art Museum Trust chairman Grant Faber told the crowd the final unconditional letter for the $2m underwrite had been received and the formal work was under way.


Members of the project's team were at the council meeting, and a number of councillors offered their congratulations to the group.

Councillor Crichton Christie said the community has certainly spoken by raising the $21.7m.

"I've never heard of that sort of figure in New Zealand, ever."

Councillor Tricia Cutforth, who has been a vocal opponent of the project, said the "community has been incredibly divided over this issue" and the division and concerns do remain. However she said she accepted the money had been raised.

Prosper Northland Trust (PNT) chairman Barry Trass said it was "a whole different mood than what it has been" at previous council meetings, with councillors now choosing to look forward, rather than backward.

Council meetings on the issue in the past had been heated, with debate between councillors robust.

"The next step is to finalise the engineering and plans and put it out for tender."

Mr Trass said they are hoping to start work on the foundations by Christmas. He said the work is expected to take two and half years, so they are targeting a mid-2020 completion date.

He said it will "most definitely" be ready for when the influx of visitors come to New Zealand for the America's Cup.

"It's fantastic, a lot of stars are aligning. It adds more potential to visitor numbers."

Mr Trass said PNT also need to start thinking about how to promote the centre nationally and internationally.

The stub road next to the old Northland Regional Council building will be closed to enable construction of the Hundertwasser building. A footpath will be built across this part of the intersection and the lights removed.

Consent to close this road was given by the council roading manager in November 2012.