Whangarei gets $459,000 funding to build Camera Obscura Sculpture

Published: May 28, 2019 · Updated: Dec 1, 2020

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  • Northland/Te Tai Tokerau

Whangarei’s Creative Northland group has secured a $459,000 investment from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) to build an interactive camera obscura sculpture.

The Camera Obscura project team.

Felicity Christian, Trish Clarke, and Diane Stoppard from the Camera Obscura project team.

A camera obscura is a natural phenomenon that occurs when light passing through a hole projects an outside landscape in reverse and upside down onto an internal wall in a room. An eight metre by eight metre spiral steel sculpture will house the camera obscura room within it, making it one of a handful of sculptural obscuras in the world.

Spearheaded by Creative Northland, construction will start in October on the sculpture which will be located on the banks of the Hatea River, overlooking Te Matau a Pohe Bridge in Whangarei. The bridge will be the image that’s projected and reversed inside the sculpture.

Project Leader Diane Stoppard says funding from the PGF has been wonderful news for the community in Whangarei.

“Without this funding we wouldn’t be able to bring this project to life. It has been truly fantastic. This will be the largest sculptural obscura in the world, which makes it completely unique and it will be a valuable tourist attraction for the region.”

With a total project cost of $991,000, more than half of the funds have been generated through the Northland community. The project has been embraced by diverse sectors of the community including iwi, arts, disabilities, education and aged groups, along with the Te Tai Tokerau Deaf Society who are strongly supportive of the sculpture as it offers a visual experience that does not rely on hearing.

In addition to this support, 12 Northland construction companies have donated 100 per cent of materials or construction services.

Ben Dalton, Provincial Development Unit Senior Regional Official for Northland, said the camera obscura sculpture will add to the range attractions in the region and will be a catalyst to increase visitor numbers, advancing the economic revitalisation of the area.

“Tourism is set to continue to grow in Whangarei and it’s crucial that we invest to improve local infrastructure and encourage initiatives that cater to tourists. The more there is for tourists to experience while they’re in Northland, the longer they will stay.”

Artist's impression of the Camera Obscura sculpture.

An artist’s impression of the Camera Obscura sculpture, which will be located on the banks of the Hatea River.