Prominent retired businessmen Sir Ron Carter is throwing his weight behind the proposed Hundertwasser Art Centre in Whangarei.
The government announced today it would contribute $4 million towards the construction of the centre, which it said would boost tourism in Northland and create jobs.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce made the announcement as part of the launch of the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan in Kerikeri.
The funding is subject to the Whangarei Museum Trust obtaining the additional $8.2m needed for the project.
Sir Ron said the government's contribution would give other organisations and philanthropists the confidence to contribute the remaining funds.
The former engineer and concrete magnate said he was an admirer of Friedensreich Hundertwasser's work and would himself be making a donation.
Years of argument
The late Austrian artist, who lived in Northland, suggested the design, which would transform an old building at the town's marina, in 2003.
After years of argument about it, the council has agreed to let a local trust raise money to build it.
The trust said it was delighted the government had come to the party, and that Sir Ron was now championing the cause.
The centre, which would include the Wairau Māori Art Gallery, would bring an estimated $3.7m into the Northland economy each year.