Wellington Scoop

Wellywood sign: good idea, dreadful idea

It’s a great idea to put a Hollywood-style sign on the Miramar peninsula. But it’s a dreadful idea for the sign to use the cliched “Wellywood” word, which does nothing except show that we are hankering after older and bigger film industries rather than having confidence in our own identity and our own name.

“Miramar” would be a great name to place on the hillside. Or how about “Wellington,” if the sign will be “one of the first things peoples see when they arrive in Wellington,” as the mayor tells us today in a press release issued by the airport company.

Of course, the airport company has already showed a strange taste in branding – it has re-named Wellington Airport as something called “Wild at Heart,” causing confusion for tourists who wonder whether they’ve arrived at a place that has some connection with the famous David Lynch movie.

The same uncertainty will be created for visitors if they see the bastardised “Wellywood” name. It has connotations of Bollywood, the generic description of India’s gigantic film industry.

If Wellington Airport Limited is really excited by Hollywood, then it should recognise that having a hillside sign stating “Wellington” in the same lettering as in the “Hollywood” original would make the connection with perfect clarity.

But no. The airport people have decided that Wellington’s enormously successful film industry should be branded with a name which does no more than suggest irrelevant connections with somewhere else.

Wellington’s film industry doesn’t need to be propped by connotations of other places. It’s big enough and famous enough to stand on its own. The airport company’s statement acknowledges that the film industry’s direct spend into Wellington’s economy is estimated at $285 million per annum, and that seven internationally-acclaimed film-related companies are based on the Miramar peninsula. So the company should be proud for visitors to see that they have arrived in Wellington, not Bollywood, not Hollywood, and not somewhere called Wild At Heart. It should reconsider the word for its hillside sign.

It also needs to learn about the history of Wellington’s film industry. It dismissively says the industry “began to flourish about 17 years ago,” ignoring the international success of Geoff Murphy’s record-breaking Goodbye Pork Pie (1980) not to mention Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste (1988) and all the other Wellington-made features from that decade which were seen and acclaimed throughout the world.

Sir Peter is quoted today as saying the sign will be “kiwi tongue-in-cheek humour … cheeky fun.” The same report quotes Hataitai resident Phil Greig who is not a fan of the sign. “There is a bit of conflict in making a serious industry too gimmicky,” he says, reasonably. A poll of DomPost online readers agrees with him. At 11.30pm tonight, 361 people equalling 52.1 per cent of participants had voted that the sign “seems like a tacky gimmick,” 21.1 per cent (146 people) thought it was a a bit of tongue in cheek fun, and only 26.8 per cent (186 people) felt it was a great way to celebrate Wellington’s film industry.

The airport company should reconsider. What’s wrong with a Hollywood-style sign saying Wellington? It’s who and where we are.


  1. Nunca_Caminaras_Solo, 9. March 2010, 18:40

    I don’t think that Mumbai, India has a sign called BOLLYWOOD to signify its moviemaking success and its Oscar winning movie Slumdog Millionaire. What a waste of public funds!

  2. Dunedin girl, 9. March 2010, 20:31

    There’s already a model of how it might look: Mosgiel has a sign which you can check by searching google images. Those on the Taieri Plains will be able to tell us the benefits.

  3. Peter, 9. March 2010, 23:23

    It is a cheap rip off and rather pathetic – especially as Hollywood means second rate to most film buffs. Miramar would be much better – the tourists would soon find out what it meant if there was second sign in the airport, and would be more curious. Agree on Wild at Heart – not exactly the image one would wish to associate with a safe airport. Maybe the Wild bit is the way they are filling the place up with tacky retail outlets.

  4. MG, 9. March 2010, 23:35

    Stupid idea demonstrating unoriginal thinking. Old thinking. Not bold thinking. Don’t pat yourselves on the back for this copycat idea.

  5. steve, 10. March 2010, 0:49

    why would anyone want to associate with hollywood? its full of dumb, rich americans with drug problems

  6. Allan Probert, 10. March 2010, 5:26

    If a sign needs to be there, then let it be Wellington. Makes much more sense and is certainly less tacky! Interesting that Kerry is on the board AND her office is on the bottom of the press release sent out- typically blatant electioneering!

  7. Trena, 10. March 2010, 6:31


  8. Robin, 10. March 2010, 10:11

    Another tacky idea from a company that’s already come up with a tacky brand and tacky international terminal. It’s not tongue in cheek. It’s embarrassing.

  9. ChangeAndHope, 10. March 2010, 12:56

    I don’t see the point of having a Wellington sign as well, because doesn’t Mosgiel have one already? Is it not bad enough that we can only end up with 23rd best place city to live in.

  10. Geoff, 10. March 2010, 13:29

    Check out the sign generator! http://wellywood.skullandbones.co.nz/

  11. Paul Bieleski, 10. March 2010, 14:23

    What’s wrong with just having WELLINGTON. ***.wood is copycatting. Make WELLINGTON synonymous with good film making – not a contrived word.

  12. Trish, 10. March 2010, 14:40

    But if we put up a REALLY BIG sign perhaps Paris Hilton will come. I would LOVE to see her. She is a BIG STAR and would definitely put Wellington on the map. And Kerry could put on a lovely lunch for her. I think we should put up the sign. With lights.

  13. Richard Tingey, 10. March 2010, 14:47

    Wellywood is not on the map. A peace symbol would be better.

  14. The City is Ours Inc., 10. March 2010, 17:39

    Wonder who wants to be the Mayor of Wellywood?

  15. Cam McLeod, 10. March 2010, 23:34

    I’m pissed off about this, I completely agree that Wellington needs something original and iconic in its own way. Wellywood, what utter crap! Whatever the sign will end up reading it needs to be much bigger and it should probably be on Mt Vic where everyone can see it. What has happened to Wellington, the new airport terminal is absolutely positively disgusting, it looks like a f***ing pumpkin and the supreme court is only ever going to age worse than Te Papa has!!! If that sign is built I will chop it down myself.

  16. Catherine Bindon, 12. March 2010, 12:22

    Agree with you all! Worse luck for us is that we live in Hataitai, in plain view of the Miramar cutting and the stupid sign would be in our faces, day and night. What an eyesore! I really hope this silliness fizzles out even though the airport seems keen to go ahead despite the legal implications of the sign trademark.

  17. Pauline Swann, 12. March 2010, 21:01

    Just another aspect of recognition of the name Wellywood…..for tourists arriving from the UK they may think they are in Fred Dagg land as what we call “gum boots” they call “wellies”…..

  18. Barrie Cronin, 1. April 2010, 23:42

    Our Mayor was quoted in the local press as saying that it was clear that people supported the idea of a sign such as the proposed “Wellywood” on the Miramar Peninsula. Is it really so clear? No one asked me before resource consent was granted. Is not the granting of resource consent always subject to appeal? Is this the sort of high-handed unilateral action we are to expect from the City Council if they get away with passing Variation 11?

  19. Rebecca, 19. April 2010, 11:46

    You should put Middle Earth on the hill or something that shows how New Zealand has succeeded and created.

  20. tina, 2. September 2011, 15:05

    An idea for the name: What about a
    ”KIA ORA” as hello
    and ”HAERE MAI” as welcome

  21. Chris, 2. September 2011, 16:20

    52.1 per cent … seems like a tacky gimmick
    21.1 per cent … a bit of tongue in cheek fun
    26.8 per cent … a great way to celebrate Wellington’s film industry

    In other words:

    47.9% for
    52.1% against

    Wow. Landslide.

    Presumably the remaining population don’t care.

  22. vryn evans, 6. September 2011, 16:25

    Wadebrownwood sounds nice or perhaps Wadebrownbikecity even nicer ?

  23. Violet, 2. November 2011, 8:50

    What is so wrong with using “Absolutely Positively Wellington.”
    Why use Wellywood as if looks like we’ve had to copy from some place else? or that we just couldn’t think on our own.
    Absolutely Positively Wellington has already been established with signs, t shirts, posters. We should all be able to voice our own opinions and this was mine.