A unique addition that will be tracking time at Whangārei's Town Basin has had its first formal start - the first sod has been turned for the rolling ball clock to be built adjacent to Claphams National Clock Museum.

The ball clock project has been the brainchild of a group of Whangārei volunteers who about 15 years ago came up with the idea for a small rolling ball timepiece after being inspired by a ball clock at Claphams Clock Museum.

But the idea grew and the "time travellers" from the About Time trust have put the spade in the ground for the project that will see a fully functioning ball clock built next to Claphams.

The first sods were turned by Simon Mehrtens, from Absolute Stainless - which is building the machine - with Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai and Henk Oosterbroek from About Time.

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The entire project will cost about $800,000 and so far they have $750,000, which includes funding from the Provincial Growth Fund and Whangārei District Council.

Warren Thomas, from the trust, said the ball clock structure is being built at Absolute Stainless' Port Rd premises and while that is happening the site will be prepared for the structure to be installed.

About Time project team member Graham Brice with the scale model of the six metre long rolling ball timepiece that will be built at Whangārei Town basin.
About Time project team member Graham Brice with the scale model of the six metre long rolling ball timepiece that will be built at Whangārei Town basin.

The About Time clock will be a world unique, kinetic, time measuring sculpture, with 35 balls speeding around to reveal the physics of the movement of time, Thomas said.

It's hoped the sculpture will be in place by July and the structure focuses on the Māori moon calendar.

Thomas said the structure would provide educational opportunities for schools to show children mathematics, physics and the cultural aspect of the ball clock.