Work has started on Whangārei's $26 million Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery.

Heavy machinery moved on to the site at the Town Basin yesterday to start the careful job of dismantling the old Northland Harbour Board building to make way for the centre.

Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser first proposed a project to convert the old harbour board and Northland Regional Council building at the Town Basin into one of his renowned living buildings.

Read more: Work starts next week on Whangārei's $26 million Hundertwasser Arts Centre - after 25-year wait
Whangarei firm Trigg Construction to build Hundertwasser Arts Centre

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Northland firm Trigg Construction will build the centre, which is expected to take about 27 months.

The heavy machinery has moved in to start the job of building the Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Maori Art Gallery. Photo / Michael Cunningham
The heavy machinery has moved in to start the job of building the Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Maori Art Gallery. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was in Whangārei to announce that the Government was giving the project another $6.9m, taking total Government funding to almost $10m.

The Whangārei Art Museum Trust is behind the project and chairman Grant Faber said the building was being demolished and the material going to the Old Army Hall in Walton St for recycling into the project.

An updated economic impact report, from Northland's regional economic development agency Northland Inc, estimates construction activity of the centre will generate $49m for the region.

The project has now fully funded the contracted construction price and met over 70 per cent of fit-out costs.

"We still have a portion to fundraise during the construction phase [$1.3m], but we're now 100 per cent confident we can start building knowing we'll be opening New Zealand's most exciting new building before the end of 2020," Faber said.