The Hundertwasser Art Centre will transform Whangarei from a “drive through to a must see” visitor destination, according to Northland Inc’s tourism head.
The attraction and the associated Wairau Māori Art Gallery look set to go ahead after a $3.5m grant from the New Zealand Lotteries Commission pushed fundraising over the $16.25m target by 30 June to $18.6m.
“It’s fantastic news,” said Paul Davis, general manager of Northland Inc’s regional promotions and tourism team.
“This will transform Whangarei from a drive through to a must see visitor destination. It will change the visitor flow through Northland and it will encourage people to stay longer and to see more as well.”
The news was hailed as a win “for and by Northland” by the Hundertwasser Art Centre project director Andrew Garratt.
“This is absolutely 100% a win for Northland. The incredible effort from this community to raise funds and voice to this project has been heard and we are delighted to have met one of the key requirements of the referendum,” said Garratt.
“We are so very appreciative of this grant from Lotteries, as well as the amazing response from the community in the last few weeks, with thousands of dollars raised through donations, art sales and pledges. The Lotteries grant is a wonderful reward for a hard-working team and community.”
The Hundertwasser Art Centre project team would now focus on raising the required funds to meet the expected build cost of $20.97m, which it has committed to securing from outside of the Whangarei district.
In its notification of the grant, which is to come from Lotteries Commission’s Significant Projects Fund, the commission committee said the art centre had strong alignment with the purpose of the SPF by contributing to regional and national outcomes for arts, culture and heritage as well as economic development, visitor services and tourism.