Work is set to start on the next stage of the $26 million Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery in Whangārei after the last of 75 piles were laid to support the building.

Work to install the piles for the centre has been completed and marks a significant milestone for the build, says Whangarei Art Museum Trust chairman Grant Faber.

The trust is behind the $26m Hundertwasser Art Centre project, which is due to be
completed late 2020.

The Government has given almost $10m towards the project. An economic impact report, from Northland's regional economic development agency Northland Inc earlier this year, estimated construction activity of the centre will generate $49m for the region.


"The piles are the feet that will anchor the building to the ground but the connection is symbolic too. Hundertwasser's vision for the site is now physically connected to where the centre will soon stand," Faber said.

He said 75 hollow steel tubes were sunk into the ground at depths of between 35 to 28 metres to create the piles. These were then excavated before the holes were filled with steel and concrete to form the piles.

Faber said the piles all reach down to the bedrock which lies beneath the Town Basin to provide a solid foundation.

"There were concerns that this stage of the build might cause some disruption for our closest neighbours as the process for sinking the piles was expected to cause strong vibrations but everyone has been pleasantly surprised with how smoothly it has gone. The construction team has done a great job," Faber said.

Burning Issues Gallery stands beside the site and co-owner Philip Kilmore, who stocks a range of delicate handmade glass, ceramics and sculptures, said he was a little nervous about the process and secured many objects with museum wax before work started.

"Occasionally the vibrations were quite intense, but not as bad as we had thought they would be.

"The noise was minimal for us and it didn't have any effect on business. It actually gave us something to engage with customers about as many visitors were very interested in what was happening," Kilmore said.

The next stage in construction is to form and pour the concrete bond beams which link all the piles together before installing sub-surface services and then the concrete slab early in the new year.