Wellington Scoop

Don’t sing in the railway station – it’s banned because of the Rugby World Cup

by Lindsay Shelton
Be warned. The ultra-strict Rugby World Cup rules take effect in Wellington this weekend.

One of the most surprising bans – and one of the meanest – is a restriction on where buskers can perform. The city council always requires them to get a licence. (It’s free, after you’ve filled in a form and studied the guidelines.) But for the Rugby World Cup, with or without a licence, no busking will be allowed within 500 metres of the Westpac Regional Stadium.

The ban includes the railway station, where the subway and the forecourt have always been popular for street performers. Because of the rugby rules, you won’t be allowed to sing or play a musical instrument in either of these areas, or in part of Bunny Street which is sinisterly branded as a “clean zone”.

The city council will be sending staff into the streets to say “move along” to anyone who might be seen or heard making music in the wrong places. They’ll also be guarding against unauthorised street trading or food stalls, to “protect not only sponsors’ rights, but also the rights of legitimate Wellington businesses.”

Why would the Rugby World Cup’s sponsors want to stop people singing near the Stadium? It’ll be an aspect of Wellington life that rugby visitors won’t be experiencing, at least not when they’re on their way to the games. That is, if the council’s watchdogs are being vigilant.

To be fair, it’s not the council’s fault. And the council is also trying hard to ensure that tourists are given a good time while they’re here. Its Carnivale has an enormous list of attractions, and there’s even (curiously) a dressing-up competition. Not a fancy dress event – it wants people to dress up their homes or offices. Hard to believe that such activities will improve the visitor experience. After all, the New York Times has already decided that Wellington is a “must see” destination, without a Carnivale or any dressed-up houses.


  1. Jitterati, 8. September 2011, 15:39

    Well, we don’t want just ANYONE making money off the RWC, do we?

  2. Sridhar, 9. September 2011, 12:52

    There have always been buskers in the subway & forecourt. It’s not as if they are only turning up because of the games at the stadium or the increase in tourists. What is the RWC’s problem? Not that I am a big fan of either the RWC or the street performers – but they provide entertainment to passersby in return for some relatively petty amounts they collect. How does that impact on the RWC? And who set the rules and who sanctioned those rules?
    No wonder some of my mates have gone off on an overseas holiday to get away from all this.

  3. The City is Ours, 9. September 2011, 16:54

    Sridhar: The 2007 Major Events Management Act i.e. the Government.

  4. ANon, 9. September 2011, 17:10

    How hard would it have been to have the ‘fun police’ checking to see whether the buskers had their licence on them? If they do, play on… if not, move along until you get one. Visitors will think we have very few freedoms in this city.

  5. Lindsay, 10. September 2011, 9:49

    Who do you believe? The council’s website continues to say that busking is not allowed in the railway station or the subway during the Rugby World Cup. But council spokesperson Richard MacLean seems to have changed the rules. In the DomPost this morning he says: “Following discussions with the World Cup organisers, we have decided to chill out about buskers down there. They are more than welcome as long as they don’t impede any organised events.”

  6. pollyanna, 10. September 2011, 21:21

    Not the first time Mr Plod the Policeman has changed his mind on Council press releases.

  7. Lephi peneha, 14. September 2011, 18:51

    I”m a busker in invercargill. Normally I busk outside the rugby stadium as part of my license for every other game. At the RWC, some nice looking woman from the social economic department told me to move along and she wouldn’t accept my $20 bribe from making $70 in 40mims. After that day, according to the Invercargill city council I was told I wasn’t allowed, but luckily I was shown a spot that is 501m from the stadium that has decent foot traffic. I don’t follow the rugby but what’s the different between RWC and other games? And what is wrong with free street entertainment with a koha box?