Public to have say on art
The public will now get a say on the controversial $1.5 million piece of art planned to grace Auckland’s Queens Wharf.
When the working design of the ‘‘lighthouse’’ sculpture by artist Michael Parekowhai was released on April 9, Auckland Council opposed the public having a say on the piece.
However, the Auckland Council hearings committee decided on April 23 to seek public opinion, despite the application on behalf of Waterfront Auckland recommending the public have no say.
Auckland Council Hearings Committee chairwoman Councillor Linda Cooper said the notification process would address the location of the artwork and its fit with Queens Wharf as a public space – not the merits of the artwork itself.
‘‘Queens Wharf is a publicly accessible wharf and public interest in this project is high.
‘‘We have also made this decision to notify the consent in order to address some of the misinformation and speculation that we have seen reported in recent weeks,’’ she said.
Auckland Council received the application requesting nonnotification on April 17. The standard process for receiving an application from one of the council’s ‘‘family’’ of organisations, in this instance Waterfront Auckland, was followed. This included referring the application to the Hearings Committee.
Three members of the committee reviewed the application and recommended public notification, saying Queens Wharf is of public interest through its registration as a Category 1 Historic Place.
They also said it established greater certainty for the applicant as well as other parties with a wider public interest.
The next stage is for a 20 working day notification period, which will begin within two weeks and will be followed by public hearings and an independent panel.
The working design of Michael Parekowhai’s sculpture shows a ‘‘typical New Zealand house’’ with 10 glass chandeliers inside depicting the night sky and Matariki constellation.
The sculpture was commissioned following a $1m donation from real estate company Barfoot & Thompson. A further $500,000 has since been sourced from unnamed private donors – meaning the sculpture comes at no cost to the public.
Waitemata and Gulf councillor Mike Lee has been campaigning for public consultation and says the council’s decision is long overdue.
‘‘The council have come to realise that Queens Wharf is the people’s wharf,’’ Lee says.