The period for tenders to be build the Hundertwasser Art Centre has closed and an evaluation team will now decide which company will get the job.

''We're very excited. This is a milestone step,'' Whangarei Art Museum Trust chairman Grant Faber said.

All the tenders came from local firms but Mr Faber said ''commercial sensitivity'' prevented him disclosing how many there were.

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''But the project has a strong community following and it has always been our expressed intention that the building will be carried out by local companies, suppliers where possible and tradies,'' he said.

It is expected the ''construction partner'' — and details about costs — will be named in March.

An estimated start time for building may not be available until after those announcements.

All aspects of the process concerning the Hundertwasser Art Centre and Wairau Maori Art Gallery project were being done under Local Government New Zealand's best practice codes.

That meant the amount of information available to the public at times was ''frustratingly thin'', Mr Faber said.

The evaluation team includes Mike Geale, who has been appointed by Whangarei Art Museum Trust.

Mr Geale comes with decades of large-project construction experience in the UK, New Zealand and Australia. He was project and development director for Britomart and ASB Waterfront Theatre in Auckland.

Also on the team is procurement consultant Frank Aldridge from Integral Group, Mr Faber, Barry Trass, chairman of Prosper Northland which was behind the two-year drive to meet the cost of the building, and others.


Meanwhile, the construction plans are going through the final stages of the consent process, including multiple peer reviews as requested by Whangarei District Council.

That ''very rigorous'' process is expected to be finished at the same time the successful tender is announced, Mr Faber said.

Anyone wanting information about the project visit the recently re-opened Hundertwasser HQ at The Hub Information Centre, Town Basin, between 10am-4pm daily.

The HAC project group has also launched a new site,, where limited edition, high-quality prints by New Zealand artists Emily Karaka, Billy Apple, Dick Frizzell,Tony Ogle and Michael Smither are for sale.