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Something I never thought I’d be doing was sitting on a toilet taking a selfie with my son. However, in Kawakawa, that’s exactly what I did. There was a good reason though – we were sat in the Hundertwasser Toilets. Never heard of them? You have now!
Friendensreich Hundertwasser was an internationally regarded architect and ecologist who made the area near Kawakawa his home in the early ’70s. He was commissioned in 1997 to build the town’s public toilet, and what a marvellous, eccentric toilet block it turned out to be.
Friendensreich ensured that virtually all materials and labour were locally sourced. As an example, students from the local schools made some of the tiles and the windows are formed from old local bottles.
The toilet block opened on December 10th, 1999, and shortly after, in the year 2000, Creative New Zealand awarded Hundertwasser’s building the Premier Award in Urban and Landscape Design. Sadly, the great man himself died in February of the same year, so didn’t get to claim his award, and the toilets ended up being his final creation. The prize money from the award did, however, go towards funding the Kawakawa arch at the town’s entrance.
If you want to visit the toilets – and you should – they are located at the centre of the main stretch of Kawakawa town, situated in the Northland region of New Zealand.
Hundertwasser’s wish was to ‘inspire and motivate’. His final piece of work was most certainly an inspiration to me.
If you’ve landed in Auckland and are planning a trip to Kawakawa from the city, head north on the State Highway 1. It takes approx two hours and 45mins from Auckland, so unless you combine it with other sights, it’s a touch far for a day tour, but it can be done. Plenty of sights up in that area though (new blog post coming soon), and the Bay of Islands is beautiful, so it’s much more worthwhile having a few nights somewhere like Kerikeri, as we did.
There are also references to Hundertwasser’s unique style all over Kawakawa, so it’s definitely worth a nosey around!
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