Celia, it is a time for leadership

The Dom Post reports:

Some critics of the sign have been caught up in a “pack mentality” that is “really, really ugly”, Wellington Airport chief executive Steve Fitzgerald says.

There have been threats on social media sites to cut down, burn or deface the proposed sign. Moa Breweries has even offered a “beer bounty” to anyone who knocks it down.

Last night about 80 to 100 cars – spurred by a Facebook group opposing the sign – staged a slow-moving blockade around the airport’s departures area.

But Mr Fitzgerald said there was no chance of the airport backing down over its plans for the eight-metre-high, 30-metre-long steel sign on hillside land that it owns next to the Miramar Cutting.

“It is sad that Wellington’s looking like it could be home to Lord of the Flies rather than Lord of the Rings,” he said.

“That sort of pack mentality is completely out of proportion to the plan for a sign that’s intended to do something positive for Wellington. It is very extreme.”

It is ironic for the airport CEO to refer to something being ugly, when he is the one trying to foist an ugly unwanted sign on the city.

Mr Fitzgerald doesn’t seem to get it, but most Wellingtonians do not want the airport company effectively re-naming the city. It is our city, not his, and I resent the hell out of the airport for forcing this name on us. It is outraegous that they think they have this right. Sure it is their land, but it is land which is effectively the front door to Wellington. No one would care if they just planted the sign next to a runway.

It is unbelievable that the RMA and the District Plan, which can in some areas stop you pruning your own trees, allows this giant montrosity to be erected without even notification. I hope there is a lawyer out there who might be prepared to fight this issue in court – if so I am confident we could fund-raise much of the legal costs online.

But there is another way i think the sign can be stopped. The power of leadership. This is a time for Celia-Wade Brown to use her office. Now don’t get me wrong. In no way do I blame Celia for this. It was the former Mayor who was the enthusiast for this (until the backlash). But Celia can and should do more than say she doesn’t support any sign there.

Do the numbers on the Council, and have them pass a motion deploring the sign. The airport company could well back down in the face of a clear Council resolution against it. If Council won’t do it, then write an open letter to the airport from you as Mayor explaining why they should back down. explain to them that Wellingtonians think our creative studios such as Weta are not pale imitations of Hollywood, but in fact do it better than Hollywood. The unique Kiwi way of doing things (which we heard about at the pro Hobbit rallies) with our movies, is special to us, and Wellywood just looks try hard.

But most of all Celia tell the airport company they have no mandate to effectively rename the city. That is a decision that belongs to the people of Wellington. Tell them to concentrate on extending the runways, and to give up on this plan. Point out that WCC is a significant share-holder, and that while you can instruct them as to what to do, you can express astonishment that they seem determined to lower their brand and value amongst the city. That their arrogance is appalling.

An airport is a virtual monopoly, unless people want to drive or train to Auckland. That monopoly protects Wellington Airport. If people had a choice of airports, then their market share would have dropped 75% over this idiotic campaign of theirs. If Wellingtonians could choose anotehr airport to use, we would be.

“The audience for this are potential international tourists whose interests we are trying to spark. The audience isn’t locals and we’re not trying to do something that means lots to locals in terms of the film industry.”

First of all far far more domestic passengers will see the sign, as will most Wellingtonians over time. And the reasons we locals get a say, is because you are effectively purporting to speak on our behalf. By erecting this sign, your message to the world is that Wellingtonains refer to Wellington as Wellywood. We don’t.

Twitter was awash with comments, including one from Hollywood actress Melanie Lynskey, who starred in Sir Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures. “Is this Wellywood sign happening for reals? Who is behind this? So tacky!!”

It is tacky, and worse.

Again I call on Celia and the Council to come out and condemn this sign. Use the moral authority of your positions to tell the Airport that they need to take the people with them, not force a sign on us against our will. Otherwise I reckon we should set up a new ticket for the 2013 local body elections – their one policy will be to amend the District Plan to scrap the sign!

UPDATE: A UMR poll shows 64% of Wellingtonians opposed, and only 22% in favour.  Only 8% of under 30s approve of the sign.  Again – this is a time for leadership from the Council – tell the airport that it is not their job to give Wellington a new name – against the clear wishes of Wellingtonians.

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