Hundertwasser Art Centre opens

Published: 23 February, 2022

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  • Northland/Te Tai Tokerau

The stunning new Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery is now open in Whangārei, thanks to funding support from Kānoa – RDU.

Hundertwasser Art Centre by day

After nearly 30 years in the making, the Hundertwasser Art Centre opened its doors to the public on February 20 2022.

The state-of-the-art structure cost more than $33 million to build.  A significant part of this funding was provided through Kānoa – RDU’s Provincial Growth Fund ($18.5 million), while the balance came from contributions from local councils, charities, community fundraising and private donations.

Construction began in June 2018, transforming Whangārei’s former Harbour Board building into a distinctive art centre.

The construction project employed over 500 people, providing a significant contribution to the Whāngarei economy through COVID-19. 

Those who have worked on the project range from architects and builders to the plasterers, tilers and bricklayers who rendered Hundertwasser’s striking trademark detailing of the façade.

Outside, horticulturalists and landscape gardeners ensured the building’s distinctive look was further enhanced by planting the highly engineered roof in native trees and plants.   The rooftop also features an eight-metre-high gold cupola, another signature feature of Hundertwasser’s architecture.

The new building celebrates the life, work, and vision of the celebrated Austrian-born artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who spent 30 years living in New Zealand’s Te Tai Tokerau Northland region before his death in 2000. 

The newly created Art Centre is based on Hundertwasser’s original sketches for the site and contains two separate galleries.

The Hundertwasser gallery will exhibit up to 80 of the late artists’ works and will be the only permanent collection on display anywhere in the world outside of Austria. The Wairau Māori Art Gallery, which Hundertwasser insisted be included in any design bearing his name, is the first unique and dedicated public Māori Art Gallery in Aotearoa curated entirely by Māori. Its kaupapa is to exhibit the finest examples of contemporary Māori art.