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The showdown must go on: Wellywood sign will be up by September, New Zealand airport says

May 28, 2011|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Travel & Deal blogger
(Wellington International…)

Wellington International Airport plans to erect a giant Wellywood sign on a hillside in the New Zealand capital by September, despite a call by Wellington's mayor to reconsider the plan, which has drawn controversy within the country and as far away as Hollywood.

"We are building a sign, and the time frame is about 20 weeks," airport spokeswoman Kat Lintott said Thursday. Lintott said the airport wants to build the sign in time for the arrival of the Rugby World Cup, which begins in September and features matches in several New Zealand cities.

The statement comes after Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and the Wellington City Council voted Wednesday to ask the airport to reconsider building the sign. The mayor said in a statement: "Many, many Wellingtonians have sent a very clear message that they don't like this project. It would simply be wrong to ignore the level of opposition we have witnessed in recent days."

The airport said it received the mayor's letter and would respond by Monday, Lintott said. She also said the airport had been in contact with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce but didn't know the nature of the communication. This week, the Hollywood chamber expressed its displeasure with the idea of a copycat of the Hollywood sign.

So why is the airport pushing for the sign? It wants to celebrate New Zealand's film industry on a global scale, Lintott said. She doesn't expect the Wellywood sign to become as famous as the Hollywood original, but it could serve as one more way to market the city. "We're saying, 'Come visit us a destination and take a photo of the sign as well.' "
 

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