The potential of Whangārei's Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery was the lure to bring internationally-recognised administrator Kathleen Drumm back home to Northland.

Drumm says the iconic nature of what will soon be New Zealand's newest art gallery has lured her home after a 10 year career as a globally influential arts executive.

Drumm has left her role as Industry Director for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), to lead the Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery and head the Whangārei Art Museum. She went to school at Tikipunga High School, was formally welcomed into the roles last week.

Drumm has spent most of her working life in the film industry - in New Zealand, Australia and Canada. In her most recent role she oversaw TIFF's annual marketplace, which attracts thousands of executives, media and filmmakers from the global film industry.

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As a programmer, she led TIFF's professional, project and artistic development for screen creators, year-round.

"I am excited to return to New Zealand to join this ambitious project, which offers Whangārei the opportunity to become recognised both as a major regional arts centre, and as an essential part of the growing arts tourism circuit", she said.

"The building and its surroundings will be unique, as a living expression of Hundertwasser's idiosyncratic vision - combining art and architecture with his passion for ecological sustainability. Exhibitions from renowned, contemporary Māori artists at the Wairau Māori Art Gallery, will make the visitor experience all the more distinctive and memorable.

"It will be an iconic landmark on a grand scale unlike anything ever seen before in New Zealand. I am confident it will become both a taonga for the region of Northland, and a significant destination for international visitors.''

Jenny Hill and HAC project director Andrew Garratt at the Powhiri for new Hundertwasser Arts Centre chief executive Kathleen Drumm.
Jenny Hill and HAC project director Andrew Garratt at the Powhiri for new Hundertwasser Arts Centre chief executive Kathleen Drumm.

The Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery with Wairau Māori Art Gallery is due to open in late 2020.

TIFF is considered one of the world's most influential film festivals - and is the biggest such public event, attracting over 650,000 people annually.

Before to her role at TIFF, Drumm was Head of Marketing at Screen Australia in Sydney and before that led international sales and marketing for the NZ Film Commission in Wellington.

She has also worked with award-winning filmmakers such as Niki Caro, Taika Waititi, and Academy Award winner Emile Sherman (The King's Speech; Lion).

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The $29 million Hundertwasser centre will be the last authentic Hundertwasser building to be constructed in the world.

Originally designed by the Austrian artist and placed on the exact spot he chose in Whangārei's Town Basin, the building will be multi-faceted and multi-functional, with a gallery of Hundertwasser's work along with a contemporary Māori Art Gallery in keeping with Hundertwasser's wishes.

The project was made possible through a mix of donations, community fundraising and local and central government funding. It's estimated that the Hundertwasser Art Centre will attract thousands of visitors to Whangārei, driving economic growth for the region.