The town of Kawakawa in the Bay of Islands is set to be transformed through the creation of a new arts, culture and environment Centre that celebrates the town’s connection with Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and will be a ‘hub’ to the rich culture in the area.
The project’s instigator is the Kawakawa Hundertwasser Park Charitable Trust. The Trust is working in partnership/co-governance with Ngati Hine to create a truly unique visitor experience for locals and visitors alike, with a ground floor interpretive centre and memorial to Hundertwasser, a first floor gallery and community workshop, and a viewing platform looking out across the park. The Centre is to be officially known as Te Hononga, Kawakawa Hundertwasser Park.
The project is seen as a significant economic regeneration project for Kawakawa and will enhance the town’s ability to benefit from the already significant flow of visitors attracted to the Hundertwasser Toilets, the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway, the Twin Coast Cycleway and the cruise ship market.
Image: Indicative site plan of Te Hononga on the Kawakawa Hundertwasser Park (click to enlarge)
Te Hononga will serve an estimated 350,000 visitors a year (more than 250,000 visitors already visit the existing Hundertwasser Toilets each year). New public amenities will relieve pressure on the original Hundertwasser toilets ‘artwork’ and provide an enhanced visitor experience, increasing the length of time spent in Kawakawa. The project will also significantly improve infrastructure, parking and amenities at the busy SH1 and SH11 junction. The proposal also aims to connect with the Twin Coast Cycleway, rerouting the already busy and congested SH1 trail onto a much safer and more scenic route through the Hundertwasser Park.
Example of Sirewall the insulated rammed earth construction of the proposed Te Hononga. Contractors and our local community will work to create the Interpretive/Memorial Centre made with local clay.
The proposal sees demolition of the existing library building adjacent to the Hundertwasser toilets, opening the site to a new town square and civic space, and to the community park at the back. This will make it safe and accessible for families to use, as previously it was not visible from the main road. It will also provide a real sense of place and community in the centre of town.
The Far North District Council intend to relocate the public library and service centre into the new centre, ensuring good community use and ownership of the development and providing a sustainable anchor tenant for the project.
The Centre will be a showcase of environmental building and design. A wider kaupapa of arts, culture and environment will be at the heart of the centre, its exhibitions and community programmes run by the Trust and Ngati Hine. The project will be made of local materials, by local hands, and involve a large number of local, world-class artists in the creation of elemts for the Centre.
Facilities will also be developed for cyclists and freedom campers. These will include bicycle racks and coin-operated ablution facilities such as 24/7 showers and toilets (for the large number of freedom campers).
The improved coach and car parking at the rear of the site, owned by Far North District Council, will ease congestion on SH1. It will allow coaches to be unloaded safely, and visitors will have access to the main street through the town square/atea.
It is anticipated that cyclists and other visitors will spend longer in Kawakawa as a result of this unique building, the landscaped park and the town square/atea. This will boost revenue to many local businesses, provide a cultural experience in the heart of Kawakawa and serve the wider Bay of Islands, Mid and Far North communities. Te Honogna will be a ‘hub’ and network to the wider cultural experiences available to visitors across the district.
The project partnership group believe the centre will strengthen the opportunity for an authentic regional Hundertwasser tourism circuit linking the proposed Whangarei Art Centre, the Kaurinui development (where Hundertwasser is buried) and the original toilets/and Te Hononga in Kawakawa. This could be promoted both domestically and internationally.
With the building plans now signed off the project team are now continuing with final fundraising and development programme for the next 18 months.