The annual World of WearableArts is a financial boon for Wellington, bringing in hordes of tourists - many of them well-heeled, middle-aged women, or potential ''cougars''.
Earlier this week, letter writer Bill Moss of Vogeltown described WOW as a ''yearly fancy-dress competition that leaves many of us shaking in dread as busloads of finely dressed middle-aged women block the city's thoroughfares as they prepare for what's known in these parts as the Wellington Sevens for cougars''.
The letter attracted a flurry of responses to The Dominion Post inbox.
From first appearance, Whangarei friends Lesley Hockings, Sandra Russo, and Julie Nurse are well-dressed enough and in the right age bracket to be "cougars" - rich older woman who pursue younger men.
But shopping, dining, and having a good time is on their agenda - not men.
After all, they have husbands and families at home. And they flew, not bussed, to Wellington.
WOW's economic impact on the city was estimated in 2009 to be $15 million, a sum likely to have risen as the length of the season has since grown.
In previous years almost 50,000 have attended the event with about 60 per cent coming from outside Wellington.
Lesley Hockings, 47, project manager from Whangarei.
We are going shopping as well as going to WearableArts. All three of us came down last year. We go to Te Papa, we look around. I don't really care what we do. I have been working really hard, it's time to chill - shopping, shopping, and more shopping. The art at WOW is fantastic but the show itself is superb. We want to be known as the tarts are in town.
Sandra Russo, 47, nurse from Whangarei.
I just think it's a really sad thing to say. We are more than just a bunch of cougars dressed up. We work hard so we can enjoy this. We come down here and book everything in advance, go to great restaurants. The WOW show is just very professional.
Julie Nurse, 48, medical receptionist from Whangarei.
I would like to know whether this letter-writer has ever been to the show. What are his qualifications? We are also going to some great restaurants, like Ambeli and Boulcott St Bistro. This is a girls' weekend. We don't get away very often so we are making the most of it. I would only turn into a cougar if I bumped into Daniel Carter.
- The Dominion Post
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