This weekend is a landmark occasion for lovers of the arts. Open for viewing for the first time in a permanent home will be James Wallace's unique collection of New Zealand art. The venue is the Italianate-style Pah Homestead at Hillsborough's Monte Cecilia Park, which has been restored by the Auckland City Council and fitted out as a gallery. The location is as impressive as the collection, which is the fruit of Mr Wallace's passion since he bought his first Toss Woollaston watercolour in the mid-1960s.

From the moment it opens to the public on Sunday, this art centre will be a worthy complement to the Auckland City Art Gallery. Items from Mr Wallace's 5000-plus artworks have previously been loaned to universities, hospitals and galleries, and that practice will continue. The Art Gallery despite the current expansion on its Kitchener St site, cannot hope to compete with the Wallace centre's location in 14 hectares of parkland.

The Auckland City Council has spent $10 million on restoration and fitout. This appears to be money well spent. But the same cannot be said for the further $15 million it plans to spend buying, demolishing and rebuilding the wholly adequate Monte Cecilia School next door on Hillsborough Rd. Nor can it be said for yet another $10 million to expand the park that will go on buying and demolishing the Liston village for the elderly.

The school is being removed simply to provide the Monte Cecilia Park with a better frontage to Hillsborough Rd. This reflects the belief of the Auckland City Mayor, John Banks, that the hitherto little known location on the twilight side of Auckland is "one of the most beautiful open spaces in any city on earth". But if any park in Auckland deserves such an accolade, it is Cornwall Park, barely a stone's throw away, which was given to the city by a previous mayor. Spending $15 million simply to create a better street frontage at Monte Cecilia makes no sense. It makes even less when shifting the school a few hundred metres at a fraction of the cost could achieve the same objective.

The Catholic Church has been willing to strike a deal with the city council. From its viewpoint, the school will be shifted to an optimum site alongside the St John Vianney parish church. But if the church wants this, it should pay for it. However the council chooses to portray this further spending, it involves money that could have been spent on other vitally needed amenities or services. And funding for those must be raised from rates or loans. While the politicians and bureaucrats' Monte Cecilia dream may be a rare example of throwing bad money after good, it is no less a misuse of public funds.

The project has all the appearance of a vanity project for Mr Banks and the Deputy Mayor, David Hay, who is about to retire from local body politics. Their determination to plough ahead in the face of well-merited concern says as much. Opponents suggest many tens of millions have already been spent by the council over the years buying up areas of park, housing and the school and the purchase and restoration of the Pah Homestead.

The value of this will be on display this weekend. But it is surely time to say enough is enough.