Artistic problems and political bickering are plaguing the $1.5 million "lighthouse" sculpture on Queens Wharf. It is now more than two years behind schedule and $500,000 over the original budget.

The sculpture at the end of Queens Wharf will not be completed until June 2016 after early assurances by the Auckland Council to carry out the project by mid-2014, later revised to Anniversary Weekend 2015.

Real estate firm Barfoot & Thompson wanted to be the sole funder with a gift of $1 million, but the cost blew out to $1.924 million before being pulled back to $1.5 million.

Yesterday, the location, cost, process and even the name of the sculpture led to angry exchanges between councillors at a project update.


Officers said the design of the house structure was complete, but the complex design of a $705,000 Venetian glass chandelier to go inside the house would not be finished until February next year.

The "lighthouse", based on a Mt Eden state house, will be filled with a glowing glass chandelier depicting a coloured glass garden of native flowers, birds and insects.

Documents, obtained under the Official Information Act by the Herald, show artist Michael Parekowhai signed a contract to complete the design work by November last year.

Glass-makers in New Zealand, the United States and Europe are being invited to tender for the chandelier. Parekowhai had pushed for a Venetian crystal chandelier.

Councillors heard that a private individual has made a verbal offer of $100,000 to help meet the $500,000 shortfall and attract other money. The Arts Foundation is also getting involved in fund-raising and a tertiary institute may get students involved in the construction of the house.

Chief operating officer Dean Kimpton said there had been "some frustration" on the part of Barfoot & Thompson chief executive Peter Thompson over the project but the real estate firm was committed to its gift and the project.

Councillor Cameron Brewer said his feedback was that the company had been appalled at the process and hauled over the coals for "a disaster from beginning to end".

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse said it was "damn right they should be concerned with the process. Not with staff, but the shouting nature of politics".


Councillor Mike Lee said as the sole councillor for the Waitemata and Gulf ward he had not been consulted and wondered how the word "lighthouse" appeared in the update and the words "state house" had disappeared.

Mr Lee was concerned the public had no say in the project on the "people's wharf", while Mayor Len Brown urged councillors to stop relitigating an earlier decision to proceed: "Let's see it through."


What is the sculpture on Queens Wharf?

Artist Michael Parekowhai's "lighthouse", based on a Mt Eden state house, contains a glowing glass chandelier depicting a coloured glass garden of native flowers, birds and insects.

How much will it cost?
The budget is $1.5 million, made up of a $1 million gift from real estate firm Barfoot & Thompson and private donations. If donors are not found, Auckland Council will underwrite up to $500,000. A private person has indicated they will contribute $100,000.

When will it be built?
t was originally planned to be built in the middle of this year. This changed to Auckland Anniversary Weekend next month and has now been pushed out to June 2016.

Why is it on Queens Wharf?
Auckland Mayor Len Brown, Waterfront Auckland and Barfoot & Thompson agreed the wharf was the best location, with the sculpture drawing people to the end of the wharf where it will be.