The controversial Ascension sculpture for Masterton's northern roundabout has received the blessing of Masterton District Council.

On Wednesday all but two councillors voted in favour of the council taking ownership of the Neil Dawson sculpture, a project driven by the Aratoi Foundation.

Rejecting the sculpture proposal were councillors Simon O'Donoghue and Brent Goodwin.

The decision to take ownership, pending the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) giving its final approval for locating the sculpture on its land, came after the Aratoi Foundation clarified aspects of the project, and revised maintenance, insurance and power costs cut initial estimates from about $12,000 to $6000 a year.


Installation will be paid for by the foundation, which has organised extensive fundraising but the cost of on-going maintenance will be picked up the council.

Masterton Fire Service has agreed to clean the sculpture each year for an estimated cost of $500 although the sculptor has advised the council his creation will be "self-cleaning to a large extent".

A similar type of structure titled Spires, which stands in Latimer Square in Christchurch was erected more than two years ago and has not needed any maintenance or cleaning.

An engineering inspection each year, which will include a written report and Traffic Management Plan, is estimated to cost $4000 and insurance based on the asset's value being $200,000 would cost $800.

The electricity bill is expected to cost about $700 a year.

The sculpture would be supported by wires attached to high poles on each of four corners and NZTA has indicated it would like to see protection bollards around the base of each pole.

Opposing the project, Mr O'Donoghue said he did not believe the sculpture had widespread support.

"I actually don't think ratepayers want to own this piece of artwork or want to pay to clean and maintain it," he said.

Mr Goodwin said the sculpture would be in "the wrong place".

"It is the wrong location and would dominate a very open space. I can't support it," he said.

Although voting in favour of the ownership proposal, deputy mayor Graham McClymont said he was doing so only to see the proposal "go forward".

"Personally I don't get it," he said.

Councillor Doug Bracewell likewise voted in favour but qualified his support with remarks about safety concerns.

Mr Bracewell said he had worried about the safety of people using a nearby pedestrian crossing in light of drivers being distracted by looking at the sculpture.

"I have been told there are already quite a few tailgating crashes there," he said.

Councillors Jonathan Hooker, Gary Caffell and Chris Peterson were happy to support the project along with council ownership and councillor Pip Hannan, who also supported the sculpture, although saying she "choked a bit" when learning a yearly engineering inspection could cost $4000.

Councillors David Holmes and Mark Harris voted in favour, without making comment on the proposal and mayor Lyn Patterson said she believed the sculpture would ensure a very good entrance point to the town.