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100% Support for Hundertwasser in Kawakawa

100% Support for Hundertwasser in Kawakawa

In the wake of the research results late last month, showing over half of Whangarei residents reject the contentious Hundertwasser Art Centre (HAC) proposal, and a further 19% are ambivalent, Noma Shepherd, Chair of the Kawakawa Hundertwasser Park Charitable Trust says the community project in Kawakawa is 100% progressing with architectural drawings unveiled at a meeting last night.

“There is no question of support from any of our public, we are all behind a beautiful connected project here, and have always been behind the artist,” says Mrs Shepherd of the Trusts plan to develop a Kawakawa reserve into a living tribute in honour of artist Friedrich Hundertwasser and his philosophy.

The Trust started developing the Park in 2011, planting trees, many sponsored by the community, in preparation for the proposed Hundertwasser Park Visitor Centre. The Centre includes a workshop space, Hundertwasser history and life in Kawakawa, a café, exhibition space and a meeting place similar to a Marae Atea (signifying the bi-culturalism of Northland). “All of this is in progress just in behind Gillies Ave Kawakawa and the world famous Hundertwasser toilet,” says Mrs Shepherd, all while Whangarei District still debate their HAC project.

Artist Thomas Lauterbach was a close friend of Hundertwasser. He developed the Visitor Centre concept and designed the proposal in conjunction with Environmental Architect Graeme North. “Kawakawas plans for a Hundertwasser Park Visitor Centre are completely different to Whangarei’s HAC proposal. HAC is another Hundertwasser architecture. In contrast, creating a Community based Visitor and Learning Centre in Kawakawa, is the communities way to honour the man who gave so much to this town. A place where people can find out more about the ‘Living Treasure’ Hundertwasser and how he lived here in Northland.”

The public toilet is the main attraction of Kawakawa and the most photographed toilet of New Zealand. The town of Kawakawa have used the toilets and some might say the ‘spirit of Hundertwasser’ to reinvent themselves over the last fifteen years. The decorative toilet block is the only project designed by Hundertwasser in the Southern Hemisphere and the artist's last project completed within his lifetime.

“It’s the real deal,” says Dan from the Trainspotter Café, if Whangarei go ahead, people will visit the museum in Whangarei and then come to Kawakawa to see the real thing. Whangarei should just get on with it,” exclaims Dan, “I know what an incredible draw card Hundertwasser is; I see the buses opposite our café every day.”

But the HAC project in Whangarei draws a passionate response from the small community of Kawakawa. Many see Hundertwasser as Kawakawa’s treasure and do not understand why Whangarei District Council would proceed with HAC in competition with Kawakawa.

“I’m thinking of taking placards down to the council meeting in Whangarei on the 25th (June) in protest,” says one local Kawakawa artist.

Fredrich’s friend and neighbour, Ron Cleaver says “Freddy made Kawakawa his home for 25 years, and chose to be buried here. I think he would be happy to see the Hundertwasser Park and Visitor Centre project go ahead in Kawakawa.

“His philosophy was about life and art in harmony with nature, nature and all beauty, not function and profit. Maybe Kawakawa’s project won’t be as large or expensive as Whangarei; but it will be authentic and connected to the artist.”

So while the Whangarei community question HAC and Kawakawa community question the merit of two Hundertwasser projects in Northland, Noma Shepherd is certain of one thing, “the Kawakawa Hundertwasser Park and Visitor Centre is progressing no matter how the Whangarei District Council decide later this month.”

For information about the Kawakawa Hundertwasser Park Charitable Trust and the Hundertwasser Park & Visitor Centre please view: http://hundertwasserpark.com/index.html


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