Rome wasn't built in a day, and the Hemo Gorge sculpture wasn't built in three years.
Hopefully, it will be built in four.
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The 12m-tall and 6m-wide work destined for Rotorua city's southern gateway was originally meant to be finished in 2017.
There is still no installation date and the project is $173,000 over its original $570,000 budget, with the manufacturer Kilwell Fibretube voluntarily absorbing up to $230,000 more in additional costs and a forgone margin.
When moving day comes, Taranaki firm Beck Helicopters will be paid $15,000 to carry the sculpture in two pieces from Kilwell on Te Ngae Rd, to the roundabout.
That's just some of the new information revealed in a cache of documents and emails about the sculpture obtained by the Rotorua Daily Post through Official Information Act requests to the council and New Zealand Transport Agency.
The project's beginnings
The sculpture was proposed in 2015 as a centrepiece for the transport agency's $8 million new roundabout at the corner of Old Taupo Rd (State Highway 5) and Hemo Rd (SH30).
The chosen design was inspired by Ngātoroirangi, a Te Arawa chief responsible for safe journeys to New Zealand.
Councillors unanimously voted to underwrite the sculpture's construction and pledged $225,000 of funding, as well as agreeing to do the ongoing maintenance.
Plans to build the sculpture in wood or steel tubing were abandoned - the latter due to Rotorua's corrosive geothermal environment - and a Canadian steel firm could not make the design work.
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So Kilwell Fibretube in Rotorua offered to have a go with 3D-printed carbon fibre composite materials.
The manufacturer has made parts for everything from America's Cup boats and fishing rods to bomb dismantling robots and 200 lightsabers for a Star Wars movie.
Kilwell said the sculpture would dwarf others made from the same materials around the world, which had only been up to 2m in size.
Complexities and delays
Kilwell owner Geoff Wells said the team was using "a completely new method of construction that we don't believe anyone else has ever done" in an interview in August 2018.
Emails released to the Daily Post revealed that, at the time, the business was dealing with scaling errors in files it was provided for the sculpture design.
The next month, Rotorua Lakes Council community arts adviser Marc Spijkerbosch emailed Wilson saying he was sure councillors would "all be impressed" at a tour of the sculpture construction the next day.
Several councillors, however, questioned Wilson about the delays after the tour.
The installation was put back from late December 2018 to early 2019 because of the time it was taking to construct testing sections.
Nick Dallimore, general manager operations and site development at Te Puia, said the public needed to "be thinking wow about the process we have undertaken, not about how long or 'when the due date is' " in an email to the council and Kilwell.
Spijkerbosch replied saying Dallimore was "absolutely right".
"We need to steer away from any timing issues and remind people we're breaking new ground here and rising to the challenges admirably.
"If anything, the real delay was in the quest to fabricate in stainless and questions from councillors [are] probably a hangover from that."
Emails and documents from January last year showed the installation date gradually being pushed back further - first to April, then late May.
In February last year, Kilwell put out a media statement in response to "factually incorrect" comments about the sculpture posted by locals on social media.
The statement did confirm, however, "an increase in the forecast budget" to get certification.
"The sculpture is now required to stand 175km/h winds not 135km/h. This change happened after we were approximately six months into the construction."
Two days later, after hearing a presentation from Wilson, the council's Operations and Monitoring Committee recommended endorsing finishing the project and that the chief executive talk to potential donors.
Wilson made it clear to council staff in an email a week later that Kilwell had "sacrificed all thoughts of any profit as well as absorbing overhead costs [$100,000] around the 3D printing and other capex (such as building the 3D printer room, vacuum pumps, stands)".
"Plus there is an estimated $65,000 to $130,000 margin that we should be making on a job like this, which we have contributed."
He requested an updated funding plan before work began on the rest of the over-budget project.
"If we are forced to stop we will lose $80,000 but we are not willing to continue to spend the remaining $200,000-plus to complete the job if we are the only ones willing to contribute."
Kilwell and Te Puia agreed to give $40,000 each and the council agreed to cover the balance, raising its contribution to the overall project from $225,000 to $388,000.
"There is no room for council to incur any additional costs," council's operations group manager, Henry Weston, wrote in an email.
Soon after, the Rotorua Lakes Council told media the overall project cost had risen to $743,029.
The council said this month that figure remained unchanged.
The New Zealand Transport Agency gave $200,000 to the sculpture project and commercial operators such as Red Stag have given financial support.
The Rotorua Community Arts Trust gave $15,000 and the Rotorua Public Arts Trust $35,000 (with $5000 from the Affinity Foundation, $5000 from the Lion Foundation and $25,000 from the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust).
End in sight?
In April 2019, Kilwell said the May installation dates were not looking achievable and there were new sculpture assembly problems.
The date was eventually pushed out to December.
A press release sent to media in October said the inner helix was complete.
Wilson then told the council media team in early November there was actually "still a few weeks work (given good weather) that needs to be completed on the inner helix".
Wilson told the Rotorua Daily Post this month the team was "really excited" about being down to the final section and they "could not have foreseen the challenges".
"Working on a world first, using ground-breaking technology means we aren't always going to get it right the first time."
He said the alignment of the latest section was wrong in files or printing, so it had to be done manually, and laminated again.
This put the finishing date back again.
"The team is now focused on getting the last pieces finished and then it [the focus] will be making sure everything is in order for the delivery to Hemo roundabout."