Big Fruit - Cromwell
The cost of repainting Cromwell’s Big Fruit may take a bigger bite out of council funds than expected. Photos Supplied

Painting four pieces of fruit would normally be a simple and enjoyable task but when it’s the fruit itself you’re painting and it’s 8m tall things start to get complicated.

The Central Otago District Council(CODC) have spent that past year trying to source a painter to recoat the town’s iconic Big Fruit sculpture, to no avail.

The sculpture was last painted six years ago at a cost of $37,000 and the effects of Central Otago’s harsh sunlight mean it is now ripe for a repaint.

At a meeting in June last year the Cromwell Community Board were told the previous painter was no longer operating and only one of a group of contractors approached had taken up the chance to quote for the job.

Gore and South Canterbury councils who had fish sculptures had experienced similar problems finding painters.

The Board approved funds to pay the quoted amount of $94,500 – nearly half of which was for scaffolding – but the work did not proceed.

Recommended cleaning and re-lacquering between paint jobs had not been budgeted for in the council’s outgoings, only $50,000 for repainting, the board were told.

The council will now put the job out for tender to “re-test the market” and try and get the best price, communications staff said this week. They said the Board had since decided not to accept the quote given last year.

The 32-year-old structure symbolising the area’s strong horticulture industry, is photographed daily by visitors. Talk of adding cherries, grapes and even a chafer beetle has been reported for many years but no changes have yet been made.