5Frederick Hundertwasser's toilet was opened in a dawn ceremony. I am not in the habit of taking a camera into public toilets, but you can be forgiven in Kawakawa.Frederick Hundertwasser's toilet was opened in a dawn ceremony.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.Kawakawa was Hundertwasser's home for 25 years.Hundertwasser says straight lines are evil.There are no straight lines in the toilet. Only crooked beauty.
7The toilets of Kawakawa by Thomas MarescaThousands of visitors a year are stopping in the small Northland town of Kawakawa to go the toilet.These are no ordinary toilets, you see. They are art-toilets,a colorful pastiche of mosaic tiles, ceramic columns, and colored glass bottles, with a living tree growing on the structure’s roof.The project was designed by renowned and controversial Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, and it’s turned Kawakawa from a drive-by on the way to the Bay of Islands to a stopping point for the curious and the art aficionado alike; when I dropped in, I met an Austrian couple who had made the restroom a major reason for their visit to New Zealand. (Of course, the toilets also very capably serve a more prosaic purpose(
18Hundertwasser adopted Kawakawa as his home in the 70s and for years offered to design buildings, postage stamps, and flags for New Zealand, but the toilets are the only project that he was ever able to complete here. They opened in 1999, a year before his death.The toilets may not be alone for much longer, however. Whangarei, another Northland town that has traditionally been bypassed by tourists, has just announced plans to open a $9.5 million Hundertwasser art centre, based on the late artist’s designs.