Airport takes another look at Wellywood sign

Another take on the Wellywood sign, which the Wellington airport is now taking another look at. Photo / Andy Bateman
Another take on the Wellywood sign, which the Wellington airport is now taking another look at. Photo / Andy Bateman

Wellington International Airport is taking another look at the controversial Wellywood sign after city councillors voted against the move.

Airport chief executive Steve Fitzgerald said he received a letter from Mayor Celia Wade-Brown this afternoon following yesterday's council meeting.

Ms Wade-Brown's received 10-4 support for her proposal that the airport reconsider funding the 30m long, 8m high sign -- which mimics the iconic Los Angeles Hollywood sign -- on a Miramar hillside.

The mayor said the airport had contributed significantly to the growth and energy of the Wellington region in the past decade and Wellingtonians were proud of it.

"Wellington has worked incredibly hard to build a reputation as the nation's political and cultural capital, in particular as a city with a creative edge in the film industry.

"The worry with the Wellywood sign is that it could undo much of that good work."

Mr Fitzgerald said over the course of the week, the airport had had direct discussions with several councillors and senior council staff.

"We have listened and are aware of the range of views and were surprised by the apparent need for a motion.

"We are concerned by some of the comments being made in the media and on social media sites regarding the sign. The airport is monitoring opinion closely on this matter and will continue to do so."

Wellington Airport would respond to the letter in due course, Mr Fitzgerald said.

Since the announcement was made last Saturday that the airport was going ahead with construction of the sign, social networking websites had been inundated with differing opinions to the plan.

A Facebook page, Wellingtonians Against the Wellywood Sign attracted more than 25,000 members, while the airport's own Facebook page was swamped with negative feedback.

Hundreds of motorists on Monday night disrupted airport visitors by driving slowly around it's ring-road.

A Facebook page supporting the sign has about 10,000 members.

Disdain for the controversial sign came from the highest level, with Prime Minister John Key saying he did not like it.

"Bluntly, I think they got the 'Well' bit right, I'd add 'i-n-g-t-o-n' at the end of it. I don't mind if they do it. It's up to them, but personally I'd put Wellington up."

A UMR Research poll of 300 Wellington residents found 64 per cent of those who were aware of the debate opposed the sign's erection, compared to 22 per cent who supported it.

The airport was even threatened with legal action from the owners of the Hollywood sign, who said lawyers would need to look at copyright issues.

A Marlborough brewery joined opposition to the sign by offering 15 cases of beer to whoever destroyed it once it was put up.

"Seeing as the sign itself is completely un-original, it would be nice if it could be destroyed in a completely original way, so feel free to think outside the box a bit," the brewery said on its website.

- NZPA

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