Public to have say on art

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By TOM CARNEGIE

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.

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