Controversial artwork within budget as Venetian chandelier idea abandoned for smaller lighting made in NZ.

The controversial $1.5 million "lighthouse" sculpture on Queens Wharf is being made more in keeping with its state house roots.

After two years of artistic problems and delays, Auckland Council has finally released the first public images of the sculpture, based on a modest Mt Eden state house.


Artist Michael Parekowhai has abandoned plans for a Venetian crystal chandelier weighing 4.5 tonnes and depicting a glowing garden of native flowers, birds and insects at a cost of $705,000. It will be replaced with 10 small chandeliers in a Matariki constellation, or Pleiades star cluster, referencing the Maori New Year, most of which will be made in New Zealand.


Last night, council chief operation officer Dean Kimpton said the budget remained $1.5 million, but there was no longer any cost to ratepayers.

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The project will be funded from a $1 million gift from Barfoot & Thompson, interest of about $100,000, a $100,000 donation believed to come from arts patron Dame Jenny Gibbs and an anonymous donation.

Previously, the council agreed to underwrite the $500,000 shortfall after Barfoot & Thompson made a $1 million donation in March 2013 marking its 90 years in business.

The "lighthouse", signifying a safe harbour and welcome, will be built on a wooden plinth 10m back from the end of the "people's wharf".

Mr Kimpton said the design will continue to evolve.

It is hoped the sculpture, two-thirds the size of a two-storey home, will be completed in June next year.

Over the next two days, Waterfront Auckland will apply to the council for a resource consent to build the sculpture.

Artist Michael Parekowhai. Photo / Derek Henderson
Artist Michael Parekowhai. Photo / Derek Henderson

Mr Kimpton said a number of directly affected parties, including Heritage New Zealand, Ports of Auckland, the Hilton Hotel, Waitemata Local Board, Heart of the City and Auckland Transport had been consulted, but there were no plans to give the public a say.

The application, he said, was on the basis there were no adverse effects, any effects were less than minor and no special circumstances warranting public notification.

Last week, planner and blogger Dr Joel Cayford drew attention to Queens Wharf being listed as a category 1 historic place by Heritage New Zealand.

Dr Cayford said as well as consulting Heritage New Zealand it would be appropriate to consult the public given the strong interest in the sculpture and the views from Queens Wharf.

The council has faced criticism for not giving the public a say on wharf extensions and consent to fell a large kauri in Titirangi.