Saturday, December 06, 2008

Hunterville Welcomes You

In previous times, NZ towns welcomed travellers with a simple sign paid and maintained by the various badges affixed around the kia ora. Lions, Jaycees, Rotary, etc. These have largely fallen by the wayside now. The more likely welcome most places now will be a Road Transport sign featuring a car accident. Welcome to Taihape! Don't die here! So, I'm trying to keep an open mind on the proposed Hook of Maui idea for the entrance to Wellington.

It's almost good. I dig what it's getting at, but I'm not convinced that it's the right place for it. There's stuff all images to go off, just the two included with the DomPost story. Curiously, I can't find a damned thing about it on the City Council's website. The only thing that pops up from Receding Waters and Hook of Maui seems to conclude that the most appropriate place for the sculture is at Red Rocks, with the laser pointing to the South Island. It could also double as a light house and an observatory for geologists to meausure in real time the distance between the two islands. However, the seals might get pissed off with the night light. Somehow, the seals' sleeping patterns would be considered more important than the humans who will have to put up with it in the harbour.

There's also the matter of scale. Motorway travellers won't be in a position to appreciate the Hookiness of the sculpture. To them, it will be a set of jaws in daytime, a Sky Tower-like light prick at night. It's hard to tell accurately from the shot, but the best sightlines to appreciate the true effect seem to be in Khandallah, waterfront offices, high rise office blocks and Oriental Bay. In short, it seems a bit like the rich putting their garden gnome on everyone's back lawn. Try to sticking that hook in Oriental Bay and see how far you get.

Arriving in Wellington is one of the best dramatic flourishes in NZ topography. Down the gullet of Ngauranga, under the railway bridge that unintentionally lowers one's expectations, a slow bend that unveils the entire harbour in all its glory. It is its own story without the embellishment of a bloody great hook along the way.

As for the Terrace Tunnel, there's less harm done there. It's watercolours on a pig's arsehole, so anything is better than nothing but concrete. But if there's going to be large-scale virtual waterworks, the Council should get more public toilets around the place. New arrivals will have an urgent urge to pee, and diurnal urinals are hard to find.

I'm looking forward to what Eye of the Fish can add to the debate!