Move to save sculp­ture park

Hamilton Press - - FRONT PAGE - GARY FAR­ROW

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.

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