City council prioritises film museum

KATIE CHAPMAN
Last updated 05:00 18/12/2013

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A museum dedicated to Wellington's film industry has been labelled a top priority, and a decision could be announced within the next six months.

The Wellington City Council will consider eight "big ideas" listed as the top priorities for economic growth at a meeting tomorrow.

Sitting at No 1 is a film museum, described as "an opportunity to celebrate the contribution Wellington's film sector has made to the city and the international film and visual effects industries, while adding another high-quality tourist attraction to the central city".

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said plans for the museum were progressing and a decision is likely to be announced in the first half of 2014.

But it may not be the only museum on the cards, with a "museum of conflict" also mentioned as a potential future project, along with expanding the Festival of the Arts.

Other key projects include creating a conference and events centre, establishing a "tech precinct" and getting international air connections.

Ms Wade-Brown said none of the projects would go ahead without a "thorough business case", but the eight priority plans were about setting the agenda for the city.

"We can go out and give the business community and our ratepayers confidence."

Economic growth and arts committee chairwoman Jo Coughlan said that, together, the eight priorities could "significantly transform the city".

In August, former councillor and mayoral contender John Morrison revealed that two waterfront sites - Shed 1 and the old CitiOps building at the southern end of Tory St - were being considered as potential sites for a film museum.

Shelly Bay has also been thought to be under consideration. But, when asked if either the waterfront or bay were on the cards, Ms Wade-Brown refused to elaborate, saying: "It will just narrow it down too much."

But she said the plans were advancing well. "The project is in strong negotiations . . . I can assure you it is being advanced."

A film museum was first mooted in 2001 after the first Lord of the Rings movie was released.

Wellington Waterfront chief executive Ian Pike said earlier this year that the company had been in discussions with Wingnut Films about a museum site for about five or six years.

The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films have proved to be big drawcards for Wellington - the first trilogy is estimated to have boosted New Zealand visitor numbers from 1.8 million in 2000 to 2.4m in 2006.

A survey this year showed 8.5 per cent of visitors to Wellington said The Hobbit was a deciding factor in their destination choice.

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- The Dominion Post

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