Frederick Hundertwasser first visited New Zealand in the 1970’s to mount a public exhibition of his work. He was so captured by the country that he resolved to make it his second home, purchasing an isolated rural property on the Waikino peninsula on the Waikare Inlet east of the Kawakawa.
Initially he was to spend only a few months of each year in the Bay of Islands, with the majority of his time still spent in Europe – Vienna in particular. But in recent years Hundertwasser spent more and more time at his New Zealand home. He loved the informality of the area and the freedom to walk the streets of the Kawakawa township anonymously.
He felt for the town and its entrapment in the rural decline which so much of New Zealand had suffered. In 1998 the Kawakawa Community Board was looking to upgrade 40-year-old toilet facilities in the central township, and Hundertwasser offered a solution from his design palate. To Hundertwasser, a toilet is very special because you meditate in a toilet. Like a church. „The similarity is not so far fetched“ – he says. His concept was adopted and, with the artist personally lending a hand in construction supervision, including the provision of materials from his own studio. Hundertwasser was in fact more involved in construction than he was in the world-renown Hundertwasser House apartments project in Vienna.
In consultation with the Bay of Islands College, students prepared ceramic tiles which have been used throughout the building. The bricks used came from a former Bank of New Zealand building, and both young and old from the local community volunteered services to the construction process. Frederick Hundertwasser’s toilet was opened in a dawn ceremony.
The finished product is a work of art, from the grass roof, to gold balls, ceramic tiles, bottle glass windows, mosaic tiling, copper handwork, cobblestone flooring, individual sculptures and a living tree integrated into the design structure.
Source: Bay of Islands Travel Information Network