Mahara Gallery upgrade goes ahead
After many years of planning and fundraising, the redevelopment of Mahara Gallery, in Waikanae, will get under way early next month. The revamp will take 12 months after which the gallery will be transformed into a modern fit-for-purpose art gallery. A key highlight will be a permanent home for the Field Collection featuring 44 artworks and associated documents, 24 of them paintings by Frances Hodgkins, New Zealand’s most celebrated expatriate painter. The Field Collection Trust offered the collection to the gallery a number of years ago on the proviso the gallery was upgraded to accepted international standards. The trust was keen to have the collection in the gallery especially because of Frances Hodgkins’ close association with Waikanae. Hodgkins referred to Waikanae as her ancestral home and her ashes are interred in a family plot in the local cemetery. The revamped gallery will be a drawcard of Waikanae, not to mention the wider Ka¯piti Coast, as well as give the gallery the ability to showcase high-profile exhibitions. Levin’s Crowe Construction has been chosen to spearhead the redevelopment and will follow plans created by Athfield Architects. Ka¯piti Coast District Council will work with the contractors to minimise impacts on businesses and locals and to keep everyone informed about the works. “Crowe Construction has a strong track record of successful project delivery for council so we’re pleased to have them on the team to rebuild the Mahara Gallery,” said Deputy Mayor Janet Holborow, who is the arts and culture portfolio holder. Project partners the Mahara Gallery Trust Board and Field Collection Trust welcomed the awarding of a contract. “It is a tremendous relief to us to know that the gallery will be upgraded to accepted museum standard so our gift to Mahara of the nationally-recognised Field Collection can be accepted,” Field Collection trustee Kay Brown said. “The upgrade will deliver a purpose-built gallery with double the number of exhibition galleries and almost triple the amount of exhibition space,” Mahara Gallery Trust Board chairman Gordon Shroff said. “The trust is now focusing on attracting the remaining funding needed for the project and on ensuring that the gallery continues to have a presence in Ka¯piti during the construction period.” Ka¯ piti Coast District Council is contributing $2.8 million of the estimated $6.5m project cost. Of this sum, the Waikanae Community Board is contributing $250,000. The remaining funding is the responsibility of the Mahara Gallery Trust Board, which has so far attracted a grant of $2.1m (exclusive of GST and including a contingency sum of $432,000) from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage’s Regional Culture and Heritage Fund, $450,000 from the New Zealand Lottery Board’s Environment and Heritage Fund and more than $1.5m from private trusts and individuals. Council has undertaken to underwrite any shortfall in trust fundraising, currently less than 10 per cent of the project cost, so construction can begin. “It’s fantastic to get to this point after so many years of planning,” Holborow said. “The improved gallery will be fitting for our creative community and a facility which will be able to house and display the Field Collection and other taonga. “It’ll be a cultural hub for our growing district. “We still have funds to raise so watch out for opportunities to support our efforts.” The public toilets attached to the gallery will close when the building does. Before a new, permanent toilet block is built, temporary accessible toilets will be installed nearby.