It can be very frustrating waiting for a weather window, and finding enough activities to keep ourselves occupied becomes a bit of a challenge. But when our buddies on ‘Escape Velocity’ suggested an outing to the public toilets at Kawakawa some 10km away, we thought they must have a particularly severe case of cabin fever (or something much worse).
As it turns out, the Hundertwasser toilets at Kawakawa are a famous landmark in the North Island, even signposted on the tourist route!
Friedensreich Hundertwasser was an Austrian artist, architect and passionate ecologist who made his home in Kawakawa in the 1970’s. His most famous building in Vienna, the Hundertwasserhaus apartment block has undulating floors (“an uneven floor is a melody to the feet”) and trees growing from inside the rooms. He encouraged the idea of planting trees in an urban environment – “If man walks in nature’s midst, then he is nature’s guest and must learn to behave as a well-brought-up guest” and wrote numerous manifestos on the preservation of the environment.
He became a well-loved part of the community in Kawakawa, and his final commission in 1997 was to design and build the public toilets in the main street. And what a fun and quirky project they are – built out of local bricks and bottles, with tiles designed by local school students, and with his trademark garden roof and tree as the centerpiece.
We had a great time exploring this little town and the legacy that Hundertwasser left, and it was a welcome interlude from twiddling our thumbs waiting for the weather gods to give us safe passage.