A pricey sculpture on Wellington's waterfront - made famous when a self-styled "daredevil" climbed on it and broke it - has been reinstalled.

The newly-fixed Len Lye water whirler sculpture is back in place, prompting mayor Justin Lester to warn would-be climbers "don't be a dick".

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The sculpture, a tall pole that can be activated to create a dazzling water display, has been missing from its space on the waterfront since 28-year-old Hunter Macdonald destroyed it while "showing off" to onlookers.

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A bystander filmed Macdonald scaling the pole as it bent under his weight, until it snapped off at the base, hitting him on the head as he plunged in the water.

He suffered a brain injury that came "dangerously close to being fatal", according to lawyer Carrie Parkin.

The water whirler creates a dazzling light and water display when working. Photo / Supplied
The water whirler creates a dazzling light and water display when working. Photo / Supplied

Macdonald pleaded guilty to wilful damage last year for the October incident, and was sentenced in March to community work and fined $1000 in reparation for breaking the $300,000 sculpture.

The water whirler was finally reinstalled to the waterfront by a crane yesterday, though it may take the rest of the week to make sure the mechanisms are working correctly.

We’re all excited to see the Water Whirler return to the Wellington Waterfront. But first, we are implementing a new policy - respect the art and don’t be a dick.

Posted by Justin Lester on Monday, 24 June 2019

Wellington Sculpture Trust chairwoman Sue Elliot said they were putting signs in place to warn people not to climb it.

"Like all our sculptures, when they become loved, Wellingtonians tend to be the guardians and make sure that they're looked after, and people are less likely to tag them or hopefully, in this instance, climb it," she said.

A crane was used to reinstall the sculpture. Photo / Supplied
A crane was used to reinstall the sculpture. Photo / Supplied

"In days of yore I would have been running down the waterfront screaming like a banshee at people who were swinging on the pole, and now I'm hoping because of what happened to it that all 420,000 Wellingtonians might also help look after it."

In a video posted to Facebook, Mayor Lester said it was good to see the water whirler "back in its rightful place".

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"I just want to say to everybody we're installing a new policy, which is don't be a dick," he said.

Hunter Macdonald stands in the dock at Wellington District Court on a charge of wilful damage. Photo / Melissa Nightingale
Hunter Macdonald stands in the dock at Wellington District Court on a charge of wilful damage. Photo / Melissa Nightingale

"Don't even think about jumping on the water whirler."

The estimates for repairs at the time were at least $42,000 to $51,000.