Wellywoodgate: Where is the Mayor?

Given that the Wellywood sign, which has thousands and thousands of Wellingtonians up in arms, is being put up by a company which is 34% owned by the council, and requires a resource consent from the council, you’d have thought that the Mayor would be showing a bit of leadership on the issue. Insead, the Dom Post reported this morning: “The Mayor could not be reached for comment”.

Before we go further into it, this timeline from the Dom Post is quite helpful for understanding the situation:

2009: Wellington International Airport investigates building a monument on Miramar Peninsula on a piece of land it owns.

February 2010: Wellington City Council officers grant a non-notifiable resource consent for the project.

March 2010: The Wellywood sign is announced with backlash making headlines in India, Britain and the United States. Multimedia company Skull and Bones sets up a site where thousands of people created their own, often uncomplimentary, signs.

April 2010: The airport puts the sign on hold and calls for other ideas on its Facebook page.

November 2010: Wellington Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon appointed to airport board as council representative replacing former mayor Kerry Prendergast.

January 2011: Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown speaks informally to airport officials about axing the sign.

May 2011: The airport announces the Wellywood sign will be built in time for the Rugby World Cup in September.

Let’s look a bit closer at what happened in January this year. Celia, in a attempt to regain some political capital and to be seen to have some sort of political influence, said this:

I have influence and I hope the Wellywood sign won’t happen.

She even convinced Dave Burgess that it was worthrunning a storyon how she was going to make the airport back down from the sign.

Fail indeed.

But is there more at play?

Let’s not forget that just over a month ago, there was a very public stoush between Celia, and her Deputy, Ian McKinnon, who is the council’s representative on the airport board.

The inner conspiracy theorist in me can’t help but think that this latest stoush may indeed be orchestrated by McKinnon, to really show how little control Celia has over things.


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