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Wellywood row heats up as cement goes down

Aug 19th, 2011 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

EARLY SIGNS: Workers prepare the Miramar Peninsula site where a sign (or sculpture) will go.

FOUNDATIONS for what looks suspiciously like the Wellywood sign have been cemented into the hill above Wellington Airport.

But airport authorities say the work is designed to fit any sign or sculpture and the final decision will come out of a public competition being launched this week.

The work is simply “ground preparation and reinforcement” says Kat Lintott, marketing and communications advisor for Wellington International Airport.

The truss to which the final installation will be attached is underway, as well, she says.

Enterprise Miramar chair Allan Probert, a member of the competition panel, says the work which begun in early June, bears no significance to the ‘Wellywood’ sign, other than it has the resource consent that specifies the location and the size.

“It’s aimed at giving people some perception of what the space is,” he says. “They can actually go out there and stand under the hill and imagine what it looks like.

“The other thing is if you are going to put something up in a windy suburb like we have you need to know how far you are drilling in and what’s underneath the soil structure.

“Doing nothing is not an option and ‘Wellywood’ is still an option in the final process,” he says.

Passersby’s who have noticed the preparations – being done by workmen hanging off the end of abseiling harnesses – have had mixed reactions to what they see. 

“The continued excavations and concrete foundations speaks volumes about the airport company’s true intent,” says Mark Jennings, who stood against the sign by emailing the parent company, Infratil, and participating in the protest drive at the airport.

“The works are a small part of the insult yet to come,” he says.

“I think the panel is window dressing. If the sign goes up, I look forward to watching it be torn down by locals.”

Ray Ahipene-Mercer, city councillor for the Eastern Ward is all for the sign, and says that it is fine to have the foundation work under way.

“It is happening now,” he says.  “I look forward to the exciting sign that will be constructed.”

Eastern Ward ex-councillor Rob Goulden says he is disappointed there was not more consultation, and a panel in the first place for people to take ideas to for consideration.

Enterprise Miramar’s Allan Probert says the competition will invite people to contribute their ideas for the site.

The panel’s job is to get a couple of hundred ideas that the public submit down to a dozen or so.

“There will be a public vote on the remainder of the ideas, which will be about two, then ‘Wellywood’ needs to be added to the mix.

There will be an additional vote on all three, with the winner being installed.

Mr Probert says people need to understand that it is airport land and airport money: “The second thing is they (the airport company) want Wellywood.

“The aim was to say, come up with a bunch of ideas, but we will put ‘Wellywood’ up against those in the final mix.

“The panel really had to find a way to say how we can find a robust process. Something controversial is probably a good thing.”

They are aiming to have a final decision just before or after the election in November. The winning sign will be erected by March.

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