The book was a shortlived cult fantasy. The films have become a national infatuation.
The placards are true. This really is Hobbiton. Monsters came and the elves took fright.
Before we became Hobbits, we wouldn't have readily compromised the integrity of our taxation and labour relations, not to mention our national identity.
We used to tell business that came looking for tax favours that we would build our economy on better things. More reliable things, based on the strengths and resources we have.
We made our own laws for employment and while we argued about them a lot, we didn't suddenly change them to order.
We based tourism on who and what we were, not on a false cinematic confection.
For years I've closed my eyes to Hobbiton and hoped it would pass. But this week we saw the sickening hold it has gained over us.
Maybe it doesn't matter that Hobbiton is not us. It puts our name around and gives tourists something to see. Who cares whether it's an image we want?
Well, me for one.
It strikes me as sad that a robust rural community such as Matamata would sacrifice its image of stallions and stud farms to become a phony toytown on tourist promotions. No doubt it puts dollars in the town's coffee shops but, really, what do the tourists think?
Quaint? Charming? Heaven forbid they think it has anything to do with New Zealand.
I don't know what possessed a successful Kiwi film-maker to choose a fey English fantasy for his big number. Lord of the Rings was the book to read in 1971, then deservedly it died.
I tried to read it, four times I think, mainly because it was a gift. It said nothing to me.
Cult books have a short shelf life. Tolkien had done his dash by 1972 and I can't recall much discussion of his books for the next 30 years. Then Peter Jackson remembered it. He would have been a child when the book was being read and he made a child's movie of it.
Since the film was shot in New Zealand it was almost obligatory to see it. Again I tried. I couldn't recognise anything of this country in the digitally doctored scenery, let alone the story, if there was one.
Strange little computerised hordes in halloween costumes kept rushing across the screen to cut each other up and chase a sappy boy hero who had a couple of older gents in tow. Very odd.
I know I wasn't alone in this response but not many have admitted it out loud. People who don't share the national infatuation hesitate to say so.
Writer James McNeish was on Paul Holmes' radio programme last Saturday promoting his latest novel. Eventually Holmes asked for his thoughts on the stand-off between Warner Bros and Actors' Equity.
McNeish started to say something about Tolkien then stopped. You could hear him trying to phrase what he wanted to say before he though better if it. Finally he said,"I'm not really the person to ask about this."
Last weekend, everybody was talking about whether the company or the union was the villain of the piece and whether the plot turned on industrial sabotage or commercial opportunism.
At that point there was no way of knowing and I was content to await the outcome. That would tell us. If Warner Bros would settle for assurances on employment law, the unions would have been the trouble. If the company also demanded additional tax concessions, we would know the union had been their scapegoat.
Now we know. Gerry Brownlee, Minister of Economic Development, who speaks the truth even when he is trying not to, said the Government had been forced to offer more incentives than would have been the case "had there not been that dreadful seven week period of threat and industrial action".
The actors are guilty of no more than giving Warners an excuse to come and scare the Hobbits. Now the only people who tried to stand up for themselves are villains in the village. That's Hobbiton.
Sir Peter Jackson has thanked Warner Bros for "their continued commitment to New Zealand" and the film technicians, actors and fans who came out in support.
The marches and (rather artful) placards must have been wonderful for the company to behold. Every face, every urgent plea for Hobbiton, was money in their bank. The Government could not let the production go. The company got not only a $20 million tax rebate but $13.4 million towards the cost of marketing the movies.
In return, we get some work from Peter Jackson. He will produce tourism promotions to be inserted in DVDs of The Hobbit.
I'd rather he didn't. The less New Zealand has to do with this subject, the happier I would be.