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Wellywood, property rights and tolerance

  • May 22nd, 2011

I would not erect a Wellywood sign if it were my property. But the airport land is not mine. It is mainly owned by the shareholders of Infratil. Their stewards (the directors) presumably consider that it is good for their business, and for Wellington, to install the sign.

That is just about  all that should matter.

I guess the directors have evidence, or have been persuaded, that the sign will be a cheap and concise way to remind people of the astonishing fact that our city is a major force in the world cinema industry,  But even if the directors are dead wrong they should go ahead, to assert both freedom and property rights.

Both are far more important than the embarassment of the precious Wellington set now baying for censorship of bad taste. I'm not sure David Farrar is doing more than showing pinkish tribal loyalties in his distaste for the sign, but many of those who've commented on his post could easily enjoy a book-burning.

How funny to see their steaming indignation. It is in the long tradition of effete class consciousness.  Proclaiming offense to aesthetic and cultural sensitivities is a handy way to fend off the ever-present fear of being thought "common". My friend Denis Dutton saw art appreciation as evolutionarily developed but he nevertheless scorned those who were drawn to use suppression powers in support of their anxious clinging to social status.  Many of Wellington's "intelligentsia" define themselves and their social boundaries by what they collectively decide to detest.

'Wellywood' pushes more than one of their class buttons – among them abhorence of being thought imitative (though they are desperate not to be thought unaware of any developing cultural badge). Hostility to the US is another. Plays on the term "Hollywood" are like plays on the word "Silicon". They admit the primacy of the original area of innovation.  "Silicon" of course relates to computing. Bollywood has long signified a concentration of film industry power. 

But for the Wellington intelligentsia there is a special problem. It is only recently that many of them have been able to concede that Hollywood had anything to admire. They've told each other for years that it makes only crassly commercial stuff, inferior to the gloomy output of the miserable French and other folk  who produce art movies.

Thanks to Sir Peter Jackson, the sign may not matter much. The genuine creatives in Miramar can go on producing the wealth that is miraculously floating the Wellington economy. I guess many of them will not be too impressed with the sign, but as they are creating world class work, rather than talking about it, they'll ignore the intolerance and meagre vision of those with more time and less creativity.


  • Draco T Bastard
  • May 22nd, 2011
  • 9:20 pm

People who are affected by your decisions have a natural right to veto those decisions if they consider them to be against their best interests. Nobody has the right to affect other people without their permission.

The people of Wellington will be affected by this monstrosity, ergo, they have a right to prevent it being built if they so desire.

  • Chris Auld
  • May 22nd, 2011
  • 9:56 pm

"People who are affected by your decisions have a natural right to veto those decisions if they consider them to be against their best interests. "
Are you kidding me? Did that come out wrong?
Hate the sign. Not a big fan of WLG airport nor Infratil but only because of their horridly inefficient decision to make me spend 20 minutes each morning I fly to Australia queing up to buy a departure fee…. My time in the queue is worth more than your stinking fee, ergo, recover it more efficiently please.

  • PaulL
  • May 23rd, 2011
  • 6:15 pm

I agree that private property owners have rights, and the Airport have the right to put up the sign (well, actually, only because they got a consent already approved – if they didn't have that, then the RMA would probably stop them).
But I think that is considering the situation too narrowly.  The Airport is planning to put up the sign because, as a business, they think it will increase their profits.  In short, their decision to put it up is, at least in part, based on the belief that people will like it.  Therefore, for those who don't like it, it is entirely rational to seek to demonstrate to the Airport that, in fact, people don't like it.  The logic being that the Airport have hired some marketing numpty who didn't bother to check whether the sign would have the desired effect – they just cooked up the idea during a brain fart. 
On that basis, the actions currently being taken by those opposed are entirely rational and consistent.  And I suspect they have a fair chance of working.
On another tack, the board of the company appears to include a number of our elected representatives on the council.  So logically they are incented to do things that their voters like…..if enough voters dislike this then that would be a risk to holding your position on the council.  That is also an entirely rational thing to do in a desire to have the sign stopped – politics is, after all, about populism.

(FYI – a security code that is a bit obscure, and a website that deletes your comment if you get the code wrong, thereby making you retype it, is probably not conducive to getting lots of comments….
And, on second try… you need cookies enabled to use this site?)

  • Mark Petersen
  • May 24th, 2011
  • 3:33 pm

With property rights come respoinsibilities and one of our responsibilities is to be a good neighbour and consider the imacts of what we are doing on those around us.  It is largely the basis of why we have resource management laws.  In this case the Council has chosen to provide a non-notified consent.  I find this surprising given the size of the sign and the restriction that the current district plan places on building signage in relation to size and impact.
The resource management Act is a pain in the neck however it is irrsponsible actions like this by Wellington Airport Limited that lend credence to the argument to those who want to maintain the more onerous provisions of the RMA

  • Gregor W
  • May 25th, 2011
  • 12:00 pm

Mr Franks,
I strongly suspect that if the proposed sign was going to vandalise the view from your sitting room, your considerable legal skills would be being put to use (gratis no doubt) to ensure a long and tedious trip through the courts for Infratil rather than abstractly defending their property rights from the 'intelligensia' and 'pinkish tribal' menace.


PaulL Sorry about the security code. I’ll get it tinkered with again. on your substantive points, my overwhelming reaction is delight. Delight at the outrage and intolerance and anguish of people who essentially have nothing more to complain about than offense to their sense of propriety or aesthetic taste.

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