A controversial penis-shaped sculpture is nothing new for West Auckland, says deputy mayor Penny Hulse.

The Waitakere councillor says a temporary art installation at the Titirangi roundabout several years ago caused a huge furore with people demanding the "phallic" symbols be removed.

But when it came to removing the installation, she said, the community rose up to protect the installation.

Ms Hulse has not seen the $200,000 council-commissioned Transit Cloud sculpture at New Lynn, but encouraged people to look at it as a whole and think of it as a cloud.

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One of the four aluminium mesh cloud forms - hanging more than 8m over a lane linking New Lynn's shiny new railway and bus station with the town's library and shopping mall - has stunned residents.

It has variously been called "masculine", "phallic", and a "penis".

Ms Hulse said public art was always controversial and some people did not believe the council should get involved. But that was not the Waitakere way, she said, which firmly believed in public art and had experience with art that was controversial and then loved.

The fuss over the New Lynn sculpture has been likened to that over this Titirangi artwork. Photo / Nick Reed
The fuss over the New Lynn sculpture has been likened to that over this Titirangi artwork. Photo / Nick Reed

Sculptor Gregor Kregar, who with his artist wife Sara Hughes and architect Davor Popadich created the work, said it was never intended to create a large phallic image in the sky.

Whau Local Board chairwoman Catherine Farmer said the sculpture was the work of the council's regional arts body, not the local board.

She said the board was briefed on the concept in the last term of the council and before Christmas, as part of the resource consent application, saw an image similar to one in the Herald of the artwork lit up in Kregar's studio.

"The images were not representative of what we see now," Ms Farmer said.

She said once 50m of neon lights in each of the cloud forms were connected, the sculpture could look quite different.

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"Public art is important in our town centres and the local board is supportive of artwork generally as a way enlivening our perceptions," Ms Farmer said.

A council spokeswoman said no complaints had been received about the sculpture.