Hairy Maclary is leaping off the pages of one of our best-loved books and on to the streets of Tauranga.
By the end of this year, Hairy Maclary and his friends, including Bottomley Potts, Slinky Malinki, Muffin McClay, Scarface Claw and Schnitzel von Krumm, will be permanent fixtures on the streets of the city where their creator lives.
The mischievous animals, which feature in a series of books by multi-award- winning children's author Lynley Dodd, are to be cast in bronze and placed around Tauranga where they can continue their adventures.
Creative Tauranga is advertising for a sculptor to faithfully recreate Dodd's beloved characters and bring them to life.
CEO Tracey Rudduck-Gudsell said between nine and 12 of Dodd's characters will be made and placed within a 1.2km radius "so people of all ages can walk the trail and enjoy them".
Each sculpture will be accompanied by a bronze page from the book that is relevant to the character.
"We see grandparents taking their grandchildren to see [the statues] and reading them the stories there. Obviously it will be great for preschool teachers too - there are so many possibilities."
The city council has agreed for the characters to be mounted on public land in central Tauranga, including the waterfront.
The project will cost about $800,000 and Rudduck-Gudsell said she was "very confident" the money would be found. Pledges had been received from local trusts, agencies and service groups and the project is also being supported by Tourism Bay of Plenty.
Dodd, who has sold millions of books in more than 50 countries, was excited by the project.
"Provided we find the right person it will be lovely," she said. "There are more bits of public art in cities now, it's becoming quite a thing but not something I would ever have thought of."
Dodd is on the project team and will have input into selecting the sculptor. She said she hoped families would enjoy finding the characters around Tauranga.
She is working on another book in the Slinky Malinki series, but after breaking her leg in a fall last October, admitted it was running a little late.
Expressions of interest from sculptors close on Friday and Rudduck- Gudsell anticipates it will be "quite a challenge for the artist".
"They have to be as true to form as we can get them and of extremely high quality."
Wellington-based Weta Workshop has already made inquiries.
- Sunday Star Times