A bid to raise $12 million for an international creative think-tank has flopped and its tranquil Kaipara Harbour site is being sold.

The Kaipara Foundation, founded by artist Peter Panyoczki, has Prime Minister Helen Clark as patron and trustees include MP Judith Tizard and arts patron James Wallace.

A community of buildings including a central forum, studios and and 14 chalets was designed by Pete Bossley, a trustee and principal architect of Te Papa Museum, in Wellington.

But three years after the charitable trust was formed to get the project off the ground, Mr Panyoczki confirmed yesterday that the 17ha rural site was for sale.

"It is a beautiful place but we have not raised all the money we needed and we have a mortgage to pay and have to sell," he said.

The project set out to raise $12 million to provide a "fertile mental garden" where intellectuals and creative people could be inspired by working together.

"We thought $5 million might be sufficient to get the project going but we could not get that in time, so we put it on hold there," said Mr Panyoczki, who since 1995 has worked in Kaiwaka, north of Auckland, as well as in Switzerland.

"We will just go and do it somewhere else."

A pilot for the project was likely next year at a rented venue.

Mr Panyoczki said the coastal property, which looks out over a mangrove reserve and the harbour, cost $185,000 but would have greatly increased in value.