If you find yourself caught short in central Whanganui, there'll soon be a new public toilet available.

The toilet, which features artwork that lights up at night, is Victoria Ave in the block between Guyton and Ingestre streets. The single, wheelchair accessible, unisex toilet opens on Monday, December 2, and will be open from 5.30am to 8.30pm every day.

Whanganui District Council councillor Helen Craig, who chairs the town centre regeneration committee, said the toilet was installed in response to feedback from retailers about visitors from out-of-town seeking toilet facilities in that block of Victoria Ave.

The council, regeneration committee and Mainstreet Whanganui had worked together on the new facility, Mainstreet Whanganui general manager Des Warahi said.


Town centre regeneration project manager Ellen Young said it was pleasing to add more art, as well as a practical facility, to the town centre.

Local artist Cecelia Kumeroa designed the artwork on the exterior of the facility. It is constructed of laser cut metal panels and lit at night with coloured LED bulbs.

Kumeroa said the plant featured in the artwork is the kūmarahou, which historically Northland gum diggers used as a soap substitute. The plant isn't found in Whanganui but has been successfully grown by a local rongoā practitioner for its medicinal properties.

The bird featured on the screen is the hihi or stitchbird.

"When I visited Bushy Park recently with my grandson a few cheeky hihi birds followed us all the way to the famous rata tree – this is now a treasured memory and I dedicate the artwork to the hihi, one of New Zealand's rarest birds," Kumeroa said.