Delays in construction of a $570,000 sculpture come down to bad planning, says the chairwoman of a local ratepayers group.
The 10m high sculpture, to feature at the intersection of SH5 and SH30 at Hemo Gorge, has been delayed by 11 months, after it was discovered only a limited number of companies in the world were capable of constructing the complex design.
"It's mind-boggling they would get this design made without first making sure it could be made in New Zealand. It's bad planning," Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers chairwoman Glenys Searancke said.
The sculpture was designed by an artist from the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute/Te Puia and was inspired by the story of Te Arawa chief Ngatoroirangi.
It was originally scheduled to be installed by July this year. It is now not expected to be ready until June.
Rotorua Lakes Council's preferred contractor subcontracted a Canadian firm because specialist engineering and construction methods required weren't available in New Zealand. But that firm had previous commitments, and requested an extension, forcing the council and Te Puia to look at alternative options.
Mrs Searancke, a former councillor, described the process as "bizarre".
"If it isn't a done deal then the council should definitely be rethinking the whole thing.
"I'm sure it would look magnificent, but it is costing far too much, particularly when there are more important issues needing to be addressed."
People were quick to comment on the delay on the Rotorua Daily Post Facebook page.
"You would think council would have done their homework on this before they agreed to the sculpture," one person wrote.
"It would definitely deliver an iconic focal point at the entry/exit to Rotorua. However, to construct this while other key tourism sites require significant spending (museum, lakefront...) seems short-sighted," another said.
In response to the Rotorua Daily Post's questions yesterday, council strategy group manager Jean-Paul Gaston said the tenderer was "helping the council identify alternative construction options for the sculpture".
He said both the council and New Zealand Transport Agency were committed to constructing an iconic sculpture at the southern city gateway.
"Te Puia, NZ Transport Agency and the council are financing the project, and two additional pledges have indicated an interest. But the search for external funding is to get under way once we've worked through the construction challenges."
The Transport Agency has committed $200,000 in funding. The council committed $150,000 and agreed to provide a $120,000 underwrite, should one be needed.
Te Puia chief executive Tim Cossar said it was "fully expected" that the project be a complex and involved process to make the design a reality.
"We are collaborating with everyone involved to develop the right construction method.
"It was initially estimated that Te Puia's contribution would be about $50,000 in terms of our time and cost. Te Puia will not receive any payment for its contribution to this project - we are contributing all of our time and cost, and we expect that our eventual contribution will far exceed original estimations.
"Creating a significant work like this is a unique process and we believe that the journey adds to the importance of the sculpture and it will also ensure that Rotorua, and New Zealand, is presented with something extremely special."