Kāpiti Coast District Council has given its formal support to the Whale Song project.
Marco Zeeman, who is spearheading the project on behalf of the Whale Song Pakake Waiata Charitable Trust, had been seeking the council’s support for a long time.
He received it after councillor Martin Halliday put forward a notice of motion to councillors.
Marco Zeeman near the land where the Whale Song project would be built. Photo / David Haxton
The council endorsed the project as a “desirable and significant project” for the district.
It also added that the endorsement didn’t obligate the council to a financial commitment to the project, but it didn’t preclude the council from contributing either financially, in kind or in other capacities at a future date.
And council committed to considering the project as part of the Paraparaumu town centre development refresh that is expected to start soon.
Whale Song project aims to build a life-size sculpture park in a prime Paraparaumu location featuring seven humpback whales.
The bronze sculpted whales, sitting on top of wind turbine-type poles, would range in size up to 24m.
It was hoped the sculpture park would become a major tourism destination and create an ongoing economic boost for the district.
“The whales will become one of New Zealand’s most iconic attractions,” Zeeman said.
He said formal support from the council had been missing from previous funding applications to government funding channels.
“As the government wanted complete collaboration with iwi, councils and central government on projects, we missed out.”
But the council’s decisions “puts us in partnership on moving forward”.
Zeeman said the updated cost of the whales, mounting poles, foundations and groundworks was $12 million.
“The trust has funding applications for $5 million with private funders currently with the balance coming from those who have pledged funds and hopefully success with 50 per cent funding with the Tourism Recovery Fund.
“Funds are what will get us over the line and start the Whale Song’s build.
“The engineers are ready and the bronze foundry in China can deliver all seven whales complete with internal structural armatures, within a year of ordering them.
“We’re especially looking for funders who are keen on leaving a long-term legacy and to sponsor each whale’s cost.
“The more we can raise privately or through things like Lotteries, the less we need to ask for government funds.
“We have the one-acre site, leased in perpetuity by Ngahina Trust to Whale Song via their partnership company in Coastlands, Sheffield Properties.”