By PHILIP ENGLISH
A $150,000 millennium sculpture to be donated by Chinese New Zealanders to Auckland has upset some Parnell residents who say they were not consulted about its position by the Rose Gardens.
The 5m-high stainless steel Millennium Tree by Wellington artist Guy Ngan - originally planned as a fountain before the water feature was rejected because of the cost - is ultra-modern and does not fit with the Victorian and Edwardian atmosphere of the Dove-Myer Robinson Park, says Parnell community committee chairman Roger Cole-Baker.
"I am concerned this wonderful donation to Auckland is to be placed here without the consultation of local people," Mr Cole-Baker said.
"Hiding it near the Parnell Rose Gardens suggests the Auckland City Council is embarrassed by it."
Mr Cole-Baker said the artwork deserved a more prominent position.
"It should be somewhere where people can look up to it."
Architect and trustee of the Chinese New Zealanders Millennium Trust, Ron Sang, said the project "went through the hoops" with the city council before receiving permission.
The sculpture was approved by the local community board and he was delighted with its position.
Mr Sang said the project applied for resource consent but the council said no public consultation was needed.
The council was also concerned that maintenance should not be a great cost.
Mr Sang said that about five years ago when the sculpture was first proposed, he wanted it to be sited at Viaduct Harbour.
"I wanted the public to see it so it was not hidden away in some park miles away."
But he said 12 sculptures were commissioned for 12 locations at the time and the trust's project was not offered a position at the Viaduct.
The project was offered five locations but three were out of town.
"I expect people to complain but if they do there is not much I can do about it.
"I think when people see what it is it will be very appropriate. Who wants to put up a sculpture that is old-fashioned?
"This is a Chinese sculpture. We want to do something that is modern; something that reflects the people of Auckland."
Gloria Jenkins, a former folk dancer, was concerned yesterday because it appeared the sculpture would be erected in one of the few flat areas of the park where people danced, picnicked and sang.
"There is no Chinese involvement in the area except for the people who visit the hotels."
The sculpture would end up near a huge old pohutukawa tree but the sculpture itself looked like a butchered tree - "a kauri that has been completely mutilated".
But Mr Sang said it had been "tucked away where it will not interfere with people using the ground".
By PHILIP ENGLISH