Move to save sculpture park
The Waitakaruru Sculpture Park and Arboretum faces permanent closure if it can’t find long-term sponsors.
A case for the tourist attraction was pitched in the Nancy Caiger Gallery at Hamilton’s Meteor Theatre, accompanied by a small exhibition of works by artists who were inspired by the time they had spent at the Sculpture Park.
The park is to the east of Hamilton in the Waikato district, having been converted from a disused quarry site over 27 years.
Owners Dorothy and John Wakeling said there was an encouraging turnout of around 150 people on the main open night.
‘‘But everybody kept their hands firmly in their pockets,’’ John Wakeling said.
The park was once free to enter, and featured a continuous rotation of outdoor art exhibitions, as well as a wide variety of plants from throughout the world along a 2km trail. But it is currently available for viewing by appointment only.
Visitors have to be charged an entry fee to provide for its increasing maintenance costs.
‘‘We weren’t actually looking for funding at the Hamilton event,’’ Wakeling said.
‘‘But we wanted to let people know that seeking funding is was what we are planning on doing, because we don’t want to have small support, we want long-term partnerships.’’
While small donors were fine for short projects, he said, when searching for sponsors who will support a venture for an indefinite period of time, larger donors are preferred.
But that wasn’t looking promising.
‘‘That’s the reason for all the submissions to the councils,’’ Wakeling said.
‘‘About August we’ll make our first major submission to Waikato district. This will be a whole new idea of having the Sculpture Park as a community facility.’’
He said submissions had already been made to the Hamilton, Waikato and Waipa¯ district councils, and Waikato Regional Council during their recent public consultations around their 2018-2028 long-term plans, in an attempt to generate interest.
The mayors of Waikato and Waipa¯ had both suggested the Sculpture Park was a worthy cause, but were also keeping their cards close to their chest.
‘‘We’d like to get funding from the region as well as contributions from others,’’ Wakeling said.
The Sculpture Park inspired artworks by Aaron Frater, Craig McClure, Carmel Van der Hoeven, Naomi Roche, Wilhelmiina Drummond and Dabnee Park.