Keep 'The Hobbit' Where it Belongs, Says Mayor

22 October 2010

Mayor-elect Celia Wade-Brown today sent a strong message that 'The Hobbit' should stay where it belongs - in Wellington and New Zealand.

She said: "I fully support the production of The Hobbit in New Zealand. There is a terrible danger that Wellington could lose hundreds of talented workers and a very important skills base if producers lose confidence in us as a production centre.

"Apart from missing out on the direct benefits of making The Hobbit films here, such as the millions in direct spend and the inevitable boost to tourism, there are thousands of jobs across the city which would be affected if the big films stopped coming here."

Mayor-elect Wade-Brown said she would be happy to meet Warner Bros executives if she could help persuade them Middle Earth should stay in Wellington.

"We need calm and unanimity across the film industry to persuade Warner that their investment is in safe hands in New Zealand.

"They should realise this is just the best place to make these films. We have the skills and the experience and a compact city where no time is wasted travelling between locations, studios and production facilities."

She said she was waiting to hear from Prime Minister John Key if there was anything Wellington City Council could do to help persuade Warner Bros that the film production should be based in Wellington.

She said: "This is a national issue, not just a Wellington one, so it is appropriate that the Government should be taking the lead. But it is of huge importance to Wellington, so I contacted the Prime Minister's office to offer the Council's help in any way.

She laughed off suggestions that her appearance at a union rally this week meant her support for the project was anything other than staunch.

"I believe in fair employment and good jobs. There is nothing in that which is inconsistent with seeking to protect jobs in Wellington. It seems to me that people in the film industry here are more than happy to be working for Sir Peter Jackson and Sir Richard Taylor."