Whangarei says YES!

A clear win for Hundertwasser

Posted: 05/06/15

Interim results just released confirm Whangarei voted Option B in a landslide result for the Hundertwasser and Wairau Maori Art Centre project.


13,726 voted for the Hundertwasser project in a FPP binding referendum that had higher voter turnout than the last local body election.

5,478 voted Option A (Harbourside) and 7,876 Option C (Demolition). Votes delivered to WDC sites in person this morning are yet to be counted. A final result will be announced at 5pm today but the winner is already clear.

The ambitious project, rescued by community-led Prosper Northland Trust (PNT) after it was dropped by Whangarei District Council a year ago, is the realisation of internationally renowned artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser’s 1996 vision for the transformation of the city’s Town Basin.

Final results will be announced by WDC at 5pm today, but the residents and ratepayers of Whangarei have already made their choice clear. Voter turnout exceeded 26,000, more than for the last local body election.

PNT chair Barry Trass says celebration has already started and the mood among supporters is both joyous and thankful.

“Thank you, to everyone who voted. Whichever option you chose, it’s heartening to see such big turnout of people interested in the future of our city.

“A special thank you to those who ticked Option B. You’ve voted for a project that will transform our city. Opportunities like this don’t present themselves often and it’s exciting to see so many share our vision and enthusiasm for the future of Whangarei.

While the referendum result gives PNT a clear mandate to move to the next phase of the project, building can not start until $12.5 million is raised, contingency underwrite funds are in place and all due diligence is complete.

“The biggest part of the job is about to start. We now have up to two years to raise a lot of money, but we’re very confident it’s achievable. The project already has considerable interest from funders, nationally and internationally. We’ll be following every option, from funding agencies to private individuals, businesses and philanthropists.”

The Whangarei District Council funding commitment is capped at $2.8m, to be spent on earthquake strengthening the building prior to the extensive renovation commencing.

Whangarei Art Museum Trust will work alongside PNT on the fundraising project, developing a business plan and completing a comprehensive marketing strategy. The Hundertwasser Non-Profit Foundation in Vienna and the team of esteemed Maori scholars and artists from the Wairau Maori Advisory Panel will also play important roles part in the pre-build phase.

“We are thrilled to hear the resounding Ae! (yes!) from Whangarei” says Wairau Maori Advisory Panel chair Elizabeth Ellis. “The community has made a positive choice and we’re so excited about the opportunities this brings to everyone in Whangarei and enthusiasts in New Zealand and around the globe. It’s a brand new arts and culture showcase for the world to admire, here in Te Tai Tokerau.”

The win is the successful culmination of a significant information campaign, run collaboratively by PNT and volunteer group YES! Whangarei.

“Although we’ve heard the campaign described as ‘slick’ the reality is very different” says contributor Ros Martin. “Really, it has been run by a group of passionate volunteers combining their skills and precious time to support the project.”

Barry Trass is quick to recognise the significant help received, including support from artists, community groups, businesses, individuals and prominent New Zealanders, which has all helped the HWMAC project achieve this positive result.

“There has been a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes and we appreciate the help of every single person involved. Together we made it happen.”

For further comment contact:
Barry Trass, Prosper Northland Trust
Mobile: 027 479 4291