The Lighthouse, opens next week on Queens Wharf without Mayor Phil Goff or anyone else on hand to cut the' />

Auckland's most expensive public sculpture, The Lighthouse, opens next week on Queens Wharf without Mayor Phil Goff or anyone else on hand to cut the ribbon.

Council bosses have decided there will be no formal unveiling or speeches for sculptor Michael Parekowhai's $1.5 million work, which has been plagued by controversy since real estate firm Barfoot and Thompson gave $1 million to the city for a public artwork in 2013 to mark 90 years in business.

The cost of the sculpture, based on a modest, two-storey Mt Eden state house, blew out to $1.9 million after plans for a Venetian glass chandelier depicting a glowing garden of native flowers, birds and insects.

This was cut back to $1.5 million when Parekowhai replaced the big light with a smaller installation representing the stars of Matariki, which guided early Maori navigators.


Anonymous donors made up the $500,000 funding shortfall.

Aucklanders, who have been able to see the sculpture since the wrapping came off the house in early January, will be able to experience it close up for the first time at 7pm on February 11 when the fences come down at the public opening.

The occasion will be marked with a plaque that acknowledges the gift.

Barfoot's are holding their own private function on February 9 at The Cloud on Queens Wharf to "celebrate the unveiling of The Lighthouse" where the directors will switch on the lights for the first time.

The Herald understands that former Mayor Len Brown, who praised the magnitude and significance of the civic gift in 2013, will speak at the Barfoot event. Brown could not be reached for comment.

A mayoral spokeswoman said Goff was unable to attend either event. He was committed to a "thank you" event for his campaign volunteers at the time of the public opening and the Barfoot's function clashed with the opening of the Lantern Festival and Halberg Awards.

Asked if the controversy surrounding the artwork was the reason for not holding an official unveiling, a council spokeswoman said: "We consider the event on February 11 to be the official public unveiling."