Police score best view of the red carpet

While the public eye will be focussed on the red carpet tonight, members of the new Wellington CBD policing unit will have their eyes - and cameras - trained on the crowd.

The new police unit is set to take over control of the city's CCTV cameras from the council today, and its first task will be to monitor one of the capital's biggest events as Hollywood comes to town for the premiere of The Hobbit.

An estimated 100,000 people are expected to line Courtenay Place to glimpse the stars. And police will be watching to make sure all 100,000 behave themselves.

Inspector Terry van Dillen, officer in charge of the CBD team, said staff would be looking out for anyone making a nuisance.

About 30 officers will also be on the ground during the event and will be in constant liaison with the team monitoring the cameras.

Anyone seen drinking on the streets would be arrested, he said.

The cameras are provided by Wellington City Council, which had monitored them through Walkwise before that contract was disestablished earlier this year.

From the CCTV hub, police volunteers and staff can access dozens of cameras on their computer screens, which they are able to aim and zoom.

The new CBD unit is responsible for policing the "Golden Mile", in which a third of Wellington's crime takes place.

There are more than 400 cameras in operation around the city and Mr van Dillen said the police would like to have access to as many of them as possible.


The stars are here, the fans are here, and the gaze of the world's entertainment media is fixed like the eye of Sauron on Courtenay Place.

The final cast members of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey arrived in Wellington yesterday on Air New Zealand's specially outfitted Boeing 777-300, which had travelled via Los Angeles and London.

As a group including Irish heart-throb Aidan Turner, former Shortland Street actor Dean O'Gorman and JRR Tolkien's great-grandson Royd touched down for today's world premiere, other stars were already enjoying the sights of the city.

Martin Freeman, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis, Richard Armitage and Hugo Weaving spent Monday at Zealandia, being interviewed by an American TV show.

"They were all really lovely," spokeswoman Lauren Schaer said. "Hugo was especially interested in our conservation work, as he is involved with similar projects.

"One of their security asked me if the kiwi was a saltwater or freshwater bird. I'm still not sure if he was pulling my leg, but you don't want to mess with a big guy in a suit."

The new arrivals had another form of media appointment on their minds, as they awaited an early viewing of the film they spent a year-and-a-half making.

"We get a cast viewing today in case we hate it," said Turner, who plays dwarf Kili. "Then it would be jumping on a plane back to Dublin quickly."

Thousands are expected to line Courtenay Place this afternoon for the chance to see the stars on the red carpet. Balconies and rooftops along the 500-metre route from Taranaki St to the Embassy Theatre will also be crammed.

"It's going to be frantic and it's going to be crazy," Turner said.

O'Gorman, who confessed he was more used to watching world premieres from his lounge, added: "I really don't know what to expect. I know there's a lot of hype. [But] in terms of the amount of people, I've got no point of reference."

A survey published yesterday shows Wellingtonians are more likely than some other New Zealanders to think The Hobbit will be a major success, although hardly anyone expects the movie to flop.

A UMR Research poll showed that, in general, people thought The Hobbit would be a success, although only 18 per cent of those surveyed said they had been following the buildup closely.

It showed 84 per cent expected the movie to be a success, with 64 per cent of those thinking it would be a "major success", and 15 per cent sitting on the fence.

Those who were particularly optimistic about its chances were Wellingtonians, those aged 30 to 44, and those with incomes between $30,000 and $50,000. Less optimistic were the over-60s, people in Christchurch, and those earning less than $30,000.

The Dominion Post