By ALEXIS GRANT

A $150,000 sculpture donated to Auckland City and erected prominently at Princes Wharf needs repairs which could cost $50,000 because of "bureaucratic vandalism".

Renowned Auckland artist Greer Twiss yesterday blamed the Auckland City Council for the damage to his newest sculpture, Flight Trainer for the Albatross, and called on the council to show more respect for the city's art.

To show his resentment, Twiss spraypainted pink graffiti on the sculpture's damaged areas and on the ground underneath the piece, saying: "The damage is caused by an irresponsible city council."

Auckland Mayor John Banks has promised repairs.

Flight Trainer has been on Quay St at the entrance to Princes Wharf since early August but two of the stainless steel birds on the 4m-high work have been bent and Twiss said repairs could cost up to $50,000.

The city was given the work by the Auckland City Sculpture Trust, which paid $150,000 for it.

But the artist said the city leaders failed to safeguard the piece from construction equipment in the area which was the likely cause of the damage.

"This is ratepayers' money - money wasted by an irresponsible, uncaring council headed by John Banks, not for the first time showing itself to care little for its art works."

Twiss said the sculpture damage was part of a trend of disrespect. A nearby piece by a Japanese artist was removed during the Britomart construction and never replaced, he said.

His bronze Karangahape Rd Fountain, on the corner of K Rd and Symonds St since 1969, hasn't had running water for years.

"I can put up with criticism, but it's bureaucratic vandalism I can't put up with," said Twiss, 66. "I would never make another public sculpture ... "

Yesterday Mr Banks said the sculpture would be repaired.

"I will make immediate inquiries about these matters, and if there's any damage to that gift to Auckland City then the contractors concerned will immediately put it right and take all care to protect it.

"This is a very valid concern and I'm glad that it has been raised. I'm on to it."

Nearly a dozen people stood around the sculpture yesterday trying to read Twiss' scrawled pink message.

One bystander, Mavis O'Rourke, said she was appalled.

"They [city council] should be looking after it."

Other Twiss works

Karangahape Rd Fountain (1969) on the corner of K Rd and Symonds St.

Red Legs 2 (1969)

No Sun, No Rain, No Radiation (1986)

Rough Seams in Bowler and Flower (1993)