Rotorua's aim to become the art centre of New Zealand is one step closer as plans for the world's first 12m sculpture using 3D printing technology take shape.
But the $500,000 project has been slammed by one critic, who has labelled it ''an unnecessary extravagance''.
The Hemo Gorge sculpture would be installed at the intersection of State Highway 5 and SH30 and made by local firm Kilwell Fibretube.
It was designed by an artist from the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute/Te Puia, and originally scheduled to be installed by July this year and made out of stainless steel but was delayed due to its complexity.
But Rotorua Lakes councillor Karen Hunt said it would put the city on the map and it was ''groundbreaking and is a world first''.
'We have got the places for significant sculptures and this is the first one to kick off and set the scene for the others. My aim is to make us the art centre of the country.''
The sculpture was a New Zealand Transport Agency project she said and ''we are thrilled''.
Kilwell Fibretube chief executive Craig Wilson said due to the scale of the sculpture it was the largest one of its type he knew of in the world - a fact the company was trying to verify.
If maintained properly it could last indefinitely due to the myalic coating that would go over carbon fibre, he said.
''We are very excited, usually 85 per cent of what we manufacture is exported so it will be quite amazing to see it every day. It will cut quite an impression as a beautiful piece of art.''
He expected work to begin on the sculpture in January or February and would take six to seven months to complete.
Ratepayers Association chairwoman Glenys Searancke said the sculpture and its price tag was ''unnecessary extravagance''.
''I don't think it will bring any more people to Rotorua at all.
"It might be something to have a good look at while you are driving in and make comment about. But I can't see something like that creating a lot of interest for people ...
"It looks like the council might get away with $200,000 in funding but nevertheless it is still a lot of money to put into something pretty and nice.
''However it's not doing anything in a functional manner, especially when we have social issues which need attending to - and is it the council's job to put money into big statues?''
Rotorua Lakes Council arts and culture director Stewart Brown said the cost of the sculpture was $370,000 while lighting and installation could take it to $500,000.
The council had allocated up to $200,000 from existing arts budgets but external funding would be sought to lower that contribution, he said.
An NZTA spokeswoman said it was also providing$150,000 in funding.
* The material being used can withstand winds of up to 150km/h.
* It has an unlimited lifespan as long as UV protection is reapplied every seven years and it is cleaned thoroughly every few years.
* If any part of the sculpture is damaged at any time it can be reprinted.
* Council would be responsible for ongoing maintenance.
Source: Rotorua Lakes Council