Voters blow Wellywood away

07:42, Jan 31 2012
Gaylene Preston
Film royalty: Gaylene Preston welcomes the result of the public Wellywood vote.

The controversial Wellywood sign has been blown away in the public vote designed to find a new sign for the Miramar hillside.

Wellington - Blown Away, designed by Matt Sellars and Ray McKay from advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi Auckland, sign romped home with 18,862 of the 33,027 votes cast.

Wellington Airport was due to today sign off construction on the winning sign for the Miramar Cutting.

wellington sign
NEW CHOICE; Wellywood has been blown away in the competition to decide which sign will go up on the Miramar Peninsula.

While gales blow around the capital, the airport company has given the formal tick of approval to the sign.

While the sign will be in place by March next year, the airport was unable to say this morning how long it would take to build.

The sign will cost $80,000, which is what the airport had budgeted for.


The existing All Blacks sign will remain on the hill until the replacement is ready to go up.

The Eye of the Taniwha design was second, but trailed by more than 7000 votes.

The Wellywood option, which caused public outrage when first proposed by Wellington International Airport, managed just 3104 votes.

Mr Sellars, who spent four years in Wellington while studying at Massey University's Design School, said: "We're stoked that our idea has struck a chord with Kiwis, and particularly Wellingtonians. Sometimes it's the simplest things that make a connection."

Eye of the Taniwha creator Stephen Maddock, a Wellington tattoo artist, said the country had lost the chance to have "something great" on the hill.

He was not impressed with the winning option. "I liked the Wellywood idea for the simple fact it was identifiable worldwide with the movie industry of New Zealand."

Wellington International Airport first announced plans to build a Wellywood sign in March last year.

But the idea created a huge public backlash and the airport decided to hold a binding public competition.

A panel of seven were faced with 350 ideas ahead of a first round of public voting to determine the two ideas to be voted on against Wellywood in the final vote-off.

Protester Andy Boreham was invited to be a panel member after opposing the original Wellywood proposal. He said the airport should have listened more closely to those who did not want a sign and included "no sign" as an option in the vote. "It would have been ... a truly gracious move on the part of the airport."

But panelist John Milford, managing director of Kirkcaldie & Stains, said the selection process had been "transparent and robust". "The Wellington `Windy Sign' works really well with all the other wind-inspired features [wind sculptures] on the way to the airport," he said.

Airport chief commercial officer Matt Clarke said the panel had done an outstanding job. "We are really happy that the most popular option will be up by March next year."

An early opponent of the Wellywood sign says its dismissal by the public proves you can't beat employing an advertising agency.

Film maker Gaylene Preston was among those to take part in a slow drive around Wellington Airport when plans for the controversial Wellywood sign were announced.

Today, she welcomed the result of the public vote, saying the choice that had been made was "excellent".

"You can't beat getting an advertising agency, and paying them money to do what they do best. I don't know why the airport didn't."

However, she wanted to know how much the exercise had cost in time as well as dollars.

If the airport's idea had been to honour the film industry, she said the money would have been better spent running a film competition."Lets put some money on the screen.''

Related stories:
Comment: Poll clearly blows Wellywood away
Aucklanders designed winning Wellington sign

The Wellywood story so far:
December 2009:
Wellington City Council issues WIAL resource consent for a sign
March 2010: Airport says Wellywood will exactly mimic the layout of the Hollywood sign
March 2010: Hollywood Chamber of Commerce threaten action over copyright breach but the airport remains confident it is on legal safe ground.
April 2010: Massive backlash sees the airport ask Wellingtonians to come up with three better options than Wellywood.
May 2011: Airport rejects alternate options and announces Wellywood will proceed.
May 2011: WCC, which owns 34% of the airport, votes against the Wellywood sign
June 2011: Backlash grows into a huge beast when 25,000 people sign an anti-Wellywood Facebook protest.
June 2011: Airport backs down and announces a public competition to decide which sign will proceed.
November 2011: Wellington Blown Away confirmed for the Miramar hillside
March 2012: Sign expected to be in place

The Dominion Post