Wellington Scoop

Art and rugby; the mayor and a dictator

On the same day that the mayor of Wellington was unveiling a design for the city council’s $350,000 rugby sculpture, a columnist in the Dominion Post was identifying trends in mayoral behaviour which she compared with those of Idi Amin. Who would have expected this?

Giving her opinion on the “whole sorry affair” surrounding plans for the Wellywood sign, Linley Boniface wrote that Mayor Prendergast “has been sounding a tiny bit delusional” since the announcement that she’ll be standing for a fourth term. Then came the sentence that’s being quoted all over town: “This is, of course, exactly how it started with Idi Amin.” Strong words – even if in jest – from the newspaper which every week publishes the city council’s yellow page-and-a-half advertisement extolling the positive joys of the city as seen by the council.

Boniface uses even stronger words to describe the Wellywood sign: “cringeworthy … pathetic … ” are two of them. She also finds it disturbing that the mayor didn’t inform her colleagues about it. As Andy Foster has written in comments on Wellington.Scoop, councilors knew nothing of the plan till they read about it in the paper.

The much-derided Wellywood sign is not however a council project. It’s being promoted by the Board of Wellington Airport, where the mayor – as a council-appointed member – not only voted for it but also expressed enthusiasm in the official announcement. But the council has played its part – council staff approved the sign by giving it a non-notified resource consent, adding to the controversy by making the decision behind closed doors. A decision which is now being challenged.

Mayor Prendergast’s enthusiasm extends to a second controversial structure, one which has been initiated by the council and which a majority of councilors – art lovers all of them – have voted for. Today she went to Weta Workshop to unveil plans for the rugby football sculpture, on which the council is to spend $350,000. It’ll be four or five metres tall and the mayor says it will be “exactly the sort of thing” which the council wants: a monument which embodies the World Cup and pays tribute to the city’s thriving artistic success.

Though the mayor’s recent statements may have reminded Linley Boniface of Idi Amin, Wellington.Scoop was thinking of a different dictator when we commented a few weeks ago on another of the city council’s expensive sculptural ambitions. This one is more expensive than the rugby statue, and the council has agreed to spend $450,000 to pay for half of it. It somehow reminded us of Saddam Hussein. If you’ve forgotten it, take a look here.

And on youtube, a third dictator – this one is angry, very angry, about the Wellywood sign.

1 comment:

  1. Alex, 16. March 2010, 3:56

    This is where the politics has to stop. After all, this statue will be paid for by the ratepayers, when there is a budget deficit and rates are being increased. It’s an election year. My vote is going to someone fresh and new! http://jackyanformayor.org/.