It's not everyday pre-schoolers need to don hard hats and hi-vis coats.

But yesterday was no ordinary day for 16 four-year-olds from BestStart Maunu Village early childhood centre.

The children were taken behind the hallowed fences and on a tour of the Hundertwasser Art Centre construction site at Whangārei's Town Basin.

Destiny Couchman, Dylan Ramsey, Cate Hellier and Lilly Matson get as close as possible to the construction. Photo/John Stone
Destiny Couchman, Dylan Ramsey, Cate Hellier and Lilly Matson get as close as possible to the construction. Photo/John Stone

Centre manager Erica Johnson said with the focus on Hundertwasser in Whangārei the early childhood centre decided to make it one of the topics for their learning.

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"We've had a bit of a focus on the building, the colours used and who he was as an artist."

She said staff had taken photos of Te Kakano (the folly built for HAC) and the Hundertwasser toilets in Kawakawa and showed it to the children.

Four-year-old Austin Wright gives the visit a thumbs-up. Photo/John Stone
Four-year-old Austin Wright gives the visit a thumbs-up. Photo/John Stone

They've also looked in books and online and made some paper mache buildings.

The cherry on the top was tour, helped by one of the childrens' mum being an engineer on the project.

At the site, the children got to watch the crane moving, as well as hear about the foundations and the reinforcing steel being used.

Leah Evans watches closely as the crane moves some material across the site. Photo/John Stone
Leah Evans watches closely as the crane moves some material across the site. Photo/John Stone

Johnson said the children asked questions about how much the project is costing, when it's going to be ready, why it will be different colours and importantly - who's moving the crane.

The $29 million project, inspired by the artist, is due to be completed in late 2020.

The students were also shown pictures of what the finished building will look like.

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Lillian Leathem with her son Lincoln enjoyed their visit to the Hundertwasser site. Photo/John Stone
Lillian Leathem with her son Lincoln enjoyed their visit to the Hundertwasser site. Photo/John Stone

"It was awesome to get in and for them to see this and how they're going to construct it."

The group finished their tour with a trip to Te Kakano where they heard it was built to give local contractors the chance to "practise" building something that didn't have any straight lines.

Project spokesman Greg Hay said everyone was really chuffed to have the children at the site.

Budding engineers Lincoln Leathem and Nixon Hood look the part with their hard hats and hi-vis vests. Photo/John Stone
Budding engineers Lincoln Leathem and Nixon Hood look the part with their hard hats and hi-vis vests. Photo/John Stone

He said that Trigg Construction went out and got little hard hats and hi vis vests for the visit. "So that was really cute".

"It's a community project and we want to keep the community involved as much as possible."

Work on the concrete and steel beams which link the piles together at the site is continuing. The next big step will be the pouring of the concrete floor slab later this month.

Project structural engineer Rachel Wright explains how the buildings will look when completed. Photo/John Stone
Project structural engineer Rachel Wright explains how the buildings will look when completed. Photo/John Stone