Wellington follows Paris and locks in love

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 05:00 05/04/2014
ROSS GIBLIN/Fairfax NZ
KEYS TO MY HEART: Examples of the "love locks" on Wellington’s waterfront footbridge over Frank Kitts Lagoon.
ROSS GIBLIN/Fairfax NZ
ENDURING: A "love lock" on Wellington’s waterfront footbridge over Frank Kitts Lagoon.

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Carving your initials on a tree trunk no longer cuts it for modern lovers - instead they are choosing to leave a more permanent mark by clasping symbols of their undying affection to bridges.

The "love lock" trend is thought to have begun in France, where the Pont des Arts and Pont de l'Archeveche over the Seine in Paris are now adorned with about 700,000 locks.

But it is thriving in Wellington, too, where more than 400 padlocks - many scrawled with lovers' initials - now decorate the footbridge that crosses Frank Kitts Lagoon along the waterfront.

A backlash against the practice has begun in Paris, where some fear the weight of all the padlocks is causing the bridges to buckle.

A "no love locks" campaign has begun sweeping French social media this month, begun by two Americans living in Paris. Their petition to remove the padlocks is being spurred on by those who find the lovingly inscribed hunks of metal a little tacky.

Here in Wellington, however, the waterfront authorities seem to rather like it - so far at least.

Wellington Waterfront chief executive Ian Pike said the number of padlocks had escalated to hundreds in the past year, and he thought they added some whimsy to the waterfront.

"In my view, aside from the obvious issues like rust, it is a nice gesture with a European flavour about it and we like to see a bit of spontaneity. It happened very spontaneously and is not something we ever planned."

There was zero tolerance for graffiti on the waterfront, he said, but the locks could stay so long as they didn't cause any problems.

He was even tempted to do it himself. "But I don't think my wife would really like it."

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- The Dominion Post

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