CuriousCity: The colourful banners adding fun and flair to Wellington's central city
Wellington's central city is littered with hundreds of colourful and ever-changing event flags, but what's the story behind them? Ruby Macandrew finds out.
More frequent than the changing of seasons, but just as colourful, is the changing of the event banners that adorn more than 300 of Wellington's streetlights.
The flags, which promote upcoming events, have been a regular fixture since 2003 when they were first installed by Wellington City Council ahead of the looming British and Irish Lions rugby tour in 2005.
"It's just a nice way of bringing in some vibrancy and a festival atmosphere to the central city," Brenda Taylor, the council's arts and events support coordinator, says.
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There is no hire charge for the use of the sites with event organisers only footing the bill for the flags themselves, in line with the council's requirements and recommendations.
"As the council sees it, the use of the street flags contributes to the key Long Term Plan outcome of a dynamic central city in which Wellington will be a city with a dynamic centre and a place of creativity, exploration and innovation," Taylor says.
The banners are typically booked anywhere from 6 to 18 months out from an event, with several flags able to be showcased at a time in different parts of the city.
"Sometimes we'll do different ones for different areas, it just depends on what's relevant to the location. It keeps things fresh and that's what we want, we want people to notice them."
Until recently, contractors had to use a cherry-picker to change the flags over, but the introduction of a new system called FlagTrax, developed by local company Nexus Developments Limited, has made things a lot easier.
The new system allows the flags to be changed from the safety of ground level.
"By moving to this system, it's meant that we're able to keep the cost down and the flags now have a longer lifespan as well," Taylor says.
Because the flags are changed so regularly, the council has begun looking at establishing a recycling scheme for used flags. But Taylor says the majority of flags are snapped up by the public.
"For World Cup events, movie premieres and things like that, people like keeping them as souvenirs," she says.
"Everyone tries to get their hands on – and reuse – the flags as much as they can, especially the All Blacks ones."
Wellington City Council contractor Alex Tan, who frequently helps take down the flags, said he often fielded requests from people keen on having them.
"I did send quite a few boxes to a woman in New Zealand who was using them for lining bags."
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