Wellington Scoop

Signs and smiles and a quick consent

by Peter Brooks
This is Wellington City Council election year and it will not be long before our urban landscape is littered with hoardings with extravagant smiles backed by even more extravagant promises.

This year Kerry Prendergast need not bother with such mini-presentations of what she offers the city. We will only have to look across Evans Bay and see the Wellywood sign that will be the epitome of all she stands for: the city is a product to be marketed.

That is why one of our waterfront heritage buildings is girt by an electronic sign letting passers by know the state of the share market. That is also why early plans for the waterfront allowed for car races and in 2005 she promoted V8 Supercar racing through the CBD. Problems with a notified resource consent stopped that, but this time she and her officers have been too quick; the airport has its Wellywood consent. If citizens thought that the RMA and the consent process were safeguards against sneaky environmental change, think again.

But at least that sign will help define at least one aspect of what this coming election is all about. Those who like the mayor’s approach can vote for Kerry and her hill taggers’ charter and hope to see Go the All Blacks written across the eastern face of Tinakori Hill.

Maybe it will be worth suffering the temporary visual pollution of electoral hoardings later this year if, as a consequence, we can look across Evans Bay without a feeling of acute embarrassment.

Peter Brooks has been a Wellington resident since 1953.

Read also:-
Wellington.Scoop readers say what they think about the Wellywood sign


  1. Richard Tingey, 10. March 2010, 23:23

    The International Peace Symbol there would give Wellington a real image.

  2. Ian Johnstone, 11. March 2010, 10:52

    Shallow, second-rate idea – and the fact that it’s (reportedly) going ahead without wide public consultation is an insult to all Wellington citizens. Better to stop it now, rather than wait for a latter-day Hone Heke to do it for us.

    Ian Johnstone, Newtown.

  3. ChangeAndHope, 11. March 2010, 13:07

    When the protest against the Wellywood sign started on Facebook, we had 250 supporters. By evening it had reached 1,800 supporters. Now it’s reached the third day, this has grown to more than 8,500. Vox POPULI!! http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=354085372690&ref=ts. It’s time that the airport company, the city council and the mayor respected the wishes of the Wellingtonians and stopped this idiotic plan.

  4. andy foster, 11. March 2010, 22:08

    ChangeAndHope – Just to let you know that the first, I think, any councillors were aware of the sign was when we saw it on the front page of the Dom Post. I think most councillors were a tad irritated to find out about it in that way, and officers are already aware that such surprises aren’t greatly appreciated.

    My judgement from conversations in which this has been one of many topics in the last couple of days is that most councillors think it is entirely appropriate to celebrate the enormous contribution and creativity of Sir Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor at al, but that the sign proposed is tacky/uninspiring/copy cat – choose your choice of words.

    If you ask me, the best possible monument would be a film museum (on a significantly more substantial scale than the Weta Shop, good as that is) celebrating the best of Jackson/Weta etc which I have absolutely no doubt would be a stunning attraction for Wellingtonians and visitors alike.

    Also just to be clear, the sign is a proposal of the Airport Company, on airport land. It is the airport company’s call to proceed or not. Council’s involvement has just been as regulator under the Resource Management Act. The sign was approved on a non notified basis. It is bigger than the permitted size for signs in that part of the Airport Precinct, but as I read it not by much. Hence in their defence officers had to make a judgement about the adverse effects of a sign being slightly bigger than the permitted level. (allowed size from memory is 20 metres x 5 metres on that site) Remember we are not, and generally can not compare what is planned with what is there now (ie no sign) but the comparison has to be made with a sign of a scale which is permitted. The effects of the additional size were reasonably judged to be minimal.

    Planning staff of course could not make a decision about the content of the sign unless it were truly offensive (in the normally understood sense of the word!). Of course we would not want planners starting to make decisions about what can and can’t be written on signs !

    So it’s entirely understandable why the consent has been issued. The Airport Company’s initiative in seeking to recognise the film industry is also to be applauded. Perhaps it’s just a question of the choice of recognition. Plan B ?

    Finally just to note that there are other consents which have been issued on a non notified basis where I really do question the consent being issued – I’d particularly note the Car Haulaways decision which Wellington.Scoop has covered a couple of times. There is a story that has a way to run yet. I hope there is a story book ending.

    Change and Hope, I hope (with some confidence) that there will be a couple of significant changes in terms of Council process stemming from these decisions !

    Warmest Regards

    Cr Andy Foster
    Urban Development Leader
    Wellington City Council

  5. ChangeAndHope, 12. March 2010, 4:57

    The WCC owns 34% shares of the airport and members of the WCC sit on the Board of Directors of the airport. To say that this was not done in consultation with the WCC does not sound convincing. If you look at the debate that is going on in Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=354085372690&ref=ts. The group against the idea has grown from 1,500 on the first to more than 10,000 on the third day. Does this not speak about the wishes of the people in Wellington? Kudos to Jack Yan for contacting the Americans and Anthony Lander for starting the Facebook page to take action against this monstrosity.

  6. TS Eliot, 12. March 2010, 7:41

    A dull head among windy spaces.
    Signs are taken for wonders. ‘We would see a sign’

    – Gerontian.

  7. andy foster, 12. March 2010, 13:48

    ChangeAndHope – yes there are two Council appointees of the six directors on the Airport Board, the Mayor and a non councillor director. Council directors are therefore obviously the minority. In the normal way in which a company operates we are also not privy to the discussions of the Board. What we get is a quarterly report which will talk about major issues/financial performance etc.

    No there was no communication that I am aware of with councillors on this matter. I reiterate – the first any of us (councillors) knew about it was on the front page of the Dom Post. I have yet to hear any councillor express support for the sign. Most have said it is tacky, unoriginal, not creative.

    Council’s only involvement as far as I know was as regulator – officers issued a non notified consent as I have described above.

    So ChangeAndHope you may not be convinced but thems the facts.


    Cr Andy Foster
    Urban Development Leader
    Wellington City Council

  8. ChangeAndHope, 14. March 2010, 2:40

    As regulators and part owners of the Wellington International Airport (by virtue of a 34% shareholding,) surely councillors feel that this should not go on. To say that councillors only knew about it on the front page of the Dom Post speaks for a lack of transparency within the WCC – the mayor sits on the board. Have you seen the growing dissenting voices on the facebook fan page. Even now there is youtube parody of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dk-OYfY6vOA and the BBC has gotten into the act as well: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/8564013.stm