Ben Affleck invited to tour NZ

By Cassandra Mason

Air New Zealand's Grabaseat has invited Ben Affleck to visit New Zealand following his "I love New Zealand" comments.

Director Ben Affleck addressed his Oscar-winning film Argo's controversial treatment of New Zealand at an Academy Awards press conference, saying he "loves New Zealand and New Zealanders".

Affleck directs and stars in Argo, which tells the story of six US diplomats who escaped the takeover of their embassy in Tehran in 1979.

The film suggests the diplomats were turned away by the British and New Zealand embassies before being taken in by Canada.

Affleck has previously said the film was not fair on New Zealand, but the controversy was reignited after the film won an Oscar this week.

Kelly Kilgour, Corporate Communications Executive at Air New Zealand, said Air New Zealand wanted Affleck to "come and see New Zealand for himself".

An invitation has been extended to Affleck through his representatives and Grabaseat has set up a Facebook page inviting followers to suggest what he should do when he visits.

"We've invited Ben Affleck to New Zealand and we're clicking down the days!" the page says. "What should Ben do when he visits New Zealand?"

Kilgour said the idea came off the back of his comments after the Oscars.

"We thought it would be an interesting idea."

She said the Facebook Page had had a "real mix" of responses, many of whom would like to show the Hollywood star around themselves.

Kerry Hamilton kindly offered her hospitality to the Argo director: "We can have him at our house for tea if you need? Then we would be happy to show him around the wonderful wineries in Malborough."

There were campaigners for Queenstown, a few suggested Hawke's Bay and Johnsonville and Otaki got a mention too.

"Do a Fat Manu Bomb off the Raglan Bridge, before he surfs out there!" wrote Merrie Toomey.

Another suggested he get a tribal tattoo.

Not all the comments were positive, with many New Zealanders unimpressed with the film's misrepresentation of their country.

"Say sorry for not adding in the part where NZ helped as well in the whole Argo thing," Jonathan Brown wrote.

Kilgough said while they were still hopeful for a response, there had still been "no word from Mr Affleck".

"We're really keen to see what he says," she said.

- NZ Herald

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