Messages are starting to arrive on my desk from disgruntled entrants in the Super City logo contest. They're wondering why they bothered entering after reading the comments of judging panel chairman Waitakere City Mayor Bob Harvey, and they have a point.

To protect what chances they have, I won't name them, even though, as one put it, he reckons his entry will have gone straight into the dustbin, given Mr Harvey's rejection of the "lots of Rangitotos, Sky Towers and harbour bridges," to say nothing of "letter A's" which the mayor says have poured in among the upwards of 1500 entries.

In response, the contestant says he wished he had known "of these preconceptions before I spent time on my contribution, they certainly were not in the brief."

It's a fair point.

The brief, which is still on the Auckland Transition Agency website, says "we have kept the requirements for this competition to a minimum." It says the logo "needs to be flexible, simple and effective ... it needs to be something that feels right for a council ... and it needs to reflect the diversity and excitement of the greater Auckland area." There are no warnings that entries incorporating traditional Auckland icons were doomed.

In the press release that accompanied the brief when it was released just over a month ago, Mr Harvey's comments were typical bland adspeak. They were looking for a symbol "that will represent the Auckland Council". Fellow judge Hamish Keith was equally vague, saying he would be looking for a design "that distils the image of Auckland".

Checking through the news stories at the time, Mr Keith can be found in search of "a simple assertive, identifier" that is "instantly recognisable" and "has to say Auckland". At the same time he appeared to be contradicting himself in one of the local papers by warning that Rangitotos, Sky Towers and harbour bridges would probably not "do it for me". This is what chief judge Mayor Harvey is also now saying ... well after entries have closed.

For all I know, he might have said it beforehand too, but not, it seems, within the earshot of most contestants. No wonder they think it unfair.

If the judges have a snobby snitch on such instant symbols as Rangitoto and sails and the Sky Tower, then the reasonable thing to have done was to have written this prejudice into the contest conditions so that entrants knew where they stood before they lifted their pens to draw. And if the judges hadn't been able to persuade the Auckland Transition Agency to include these restrictions in the contest rules, then either they should have stood down in favour of more fair-minded judges or the agency should have replaced them.

Alternatively, I guess, the judges could have kept their prejudices to themselves and excluded the volcanoes and sails and so on in the privacy of the jury room. It would have been underhand and wrong, but at least none of us would have been any the wiser.

Personally, I don't know why they so want to deny this part of Auckland's being. Why are they eschewing something as instantly recognisably Auckland, as a simple stylised Rangitoto, or a yacht sail? I'm not saying that we must base the new logo on these iconic symbols, but to ban them from any consideration makes no sense. From their sniffy attitude to anything that presumably reeks of the representational, one can only worry they hanker after something fashionably meaningless, like the London 2012 Olympic logo.

This fear is reinforced by what you'll find if you follow the contest website's direction to logo ignoramuses like myself, to get up to speed at There it's all about a few world famous logos, such as IBM, Apple, Coca-Cola and Chase Bank - though no city councils seem to star.

For the organisers of Auckland's "on the cheap" contest, the story of how Nike paid a young student just $50 to come up with a logo to match adidas's stripes must have been the fairytale of their dreams. And perhaps there is a perfect abstract symbol just waiting for us Aucklanders. Wellington graphic designer Greg Dyne, for instance, told the Dominion Post that "bouncing orange Jaffas" were the answer.

Alternatively, with change erupting all around, isn't there a case for uniting around a symbol both we, and outsiders, recognise as instantly Auckland. At least, we shouldn't dismiss such options out of hand.