A comprehensive plan to put Masterton on the map is poles apart from the tired old Golden Shears symbolism that currently serves to define the town.
What started out as a plan to spruce up the welcome signs at the road entrances has developed into a wider strategy to express the identity of the town and help it stand out from the crowd.
Young business networking group 43 Below approached Masterton District Council last year to urge them to update the welcome signage and found the council was already working on a plan.
Fortunately for the district, one of New Zealand's top image consultants showed an interest in the project and the council commissioned him to produce a strategy to develop the signage.
Craig Turvey of 3D Creative, now based in Masterton, took the process back to its roots to find out what makes Masterton the healthy happy community that it is today.
Through surveys and reading previous council investigations he established that there was not one outstanding symbol that defined Masterton.
He presented an extensive report complete with ideas of how the concept could be expanded all across the whole area - at a relatively low cost. One concept he developed would employ locally sourced timber posts up to 8 metres high with symbols of the district that would show people what the area is all about.
His idea is to also create "wayfinders" that would direct people to the most interesting and important places. Similar to Maori pou, the poles would incorporate a symbol of the sky at the top and various stylised symbols in the middle section, such as vintage aircraft, grapes, a lighthouse, native birds and possibly an iwi motif on the lower section.
MDC Communications Strategy Task Group chairwoman Jane Terpstra says the project is designed to make Masterton more memorable.
"We are drawing on a wide range of attractions and strengths of the town to project a vibrant image of Masterton to our residents and visitors. Council has been working on improving signage for some time and the emphasis has been placed on putting together a comprehensive plan, rather than adopting a piecemeal approach."
Adam Philps of 43 Below is enthusiastic about the project and believes it shows a strong vision to improve the town's identity.
"It's not just a sign welcoming you to Masterton, it's a cleverly thought through strategic form to get people coming into the town and actually experiencing the things we have on offer," he says.
Mr Turvey stresses that Masterton people need to be involved in the project.
"For a piece of signage to work, you really want the community to own it," he says
Each pou may cost $1000 and Mr Turvey says that they could be externally funded with sponsorship and community ownership.
He identified 13 different key sites in and around Masterton, where there are opportunities to catch both locals' and visitors' attention.
Craig Turvey was the senior exhibition designer who was involved in setting up Te Papa. He has worked on hundreds of tourism and signage projects.
Council has workshopped the project and held meetings with a number of stakeholder groups including the business community and iwi, which have received a positive response.
Mrs Terpstra says: "The next stage is to include the wider Masterton community in the design process and we are setting up an action group to keep the project moving forward. The group will include representatives from the creative sector, including some of our most respected artists."
The idea of installing a series of pou at key places in the town came about from the desire to highlight Wairarapa's "big sky". The poles draw eyes up to the sky and encourages visitors and locals to appreciate the vista. There is also a desire to put Masterton on the map by creating something which people want to have their picture taken with and subsequently tag online.
- Wairarapa News