“We live in paradise, but we don’t know it. We live in paradise, but we constantly destroy it.”

Hundertwasser toilets in Kawakawa, New Zealand

On our way out of the Bay of Islands, we stopped at the world-famous Hundertwasser toilets in Kawakawa. Yes, friends, I am writing a blog post about toilets. But you’re reading it.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser was an artist and architect who was born in Austria but emigrated to New Zealand in the 1970s. Most of his most famous works are in Austria – Vienna actually. Remember the zany factory in Vienna I couldn’t place? Hundertwasser designed it. Evidently he abhorred the straight line.


The people of Kawakawa were so enthralled with Hundertwasser, their adopted son, they asked him to design the public toilets in town. He came out of his reclusive lifestyle to comply. The result is a colourful example of modern art centered around nature – a tree grows through the centre of the building. This is appropriate as Hundertwasser himself was a committed ecologist, and in the park to the rear of the toilets grows the last tree he planted before his death in 2000. All of the materials for the project were locally sourced.

The toilets are the only example of his work to date in the Southern Hemisphere.

Title quote: Friedensreich Hundertwasser

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