As did many New Zealanders I made the most of the beautiful autumn weather and took a few days over Easter to visit the Far North. We called into the Treaty Grounds at Waitangi, and then spent a night across the bay in the former ‘Hell hole of the Pacific’.
Following the main route south towards Auckland you have the option of taking a brief diversion to Kawakawa an unremarkable country town but which is the home of one of the few public conveniences in the world that can be called an art work.
Right in the middle of the main street, this small but intriguing building was designed by the reclusive Austrian artist architect who made Kawakawa his home between 1975 and his death in 2000. This building is the last project he completed during his 71 years and is his only work in the Southern hemisphere. Very much in his style, it uses a variety of recycled materials largely sourced from the local community, and is most notable for its use of lively, eccentric patterns of ceramic tiles, organic forms and brightly coloured components. Although the outside catches the eye, it is the highly patterned inside that really delights.
Further South in Whangarei there are plans to realise his last design on a site overlooking the harbour in the city center. This unique project to be in a similar exuberant style will house two galleries and feature a roof top green space. The project has stirred lively debate, but with nearly all the money raised to get work underway, it is hard to see how it would not be a tremendous asset to the City. The water front, or Town Basin, is a pleasant enough spot but with the addition of this extraordinary building could become a must-see destination for visitors to New Zealand...and something to be really enjoyed by the local community.
Visit http://www.hundertwassernz.co.nz/Pages/the-project.aspx for more information about the project.
- Nick C