Moa brewery will give you beer to break the law. Buy more Moa beer!

David Farrar over at Kiwiblog has posted on an apparently genuine ad from the Moa brewery promising 15 crates of beer to anyone who knocks down the proposed "Wellywood" sign intended for the hill above the airport.

Obviously the intent behind this blatantly commercial effort to leverage off genuine public disquiet at a unbelievable naff branding attempt is to be praised. I mean, is there anyone outside of Infratil who thinks the suggested sign is a good idea? (And by "a good idea", I mean something more than Sir Michael Fowler's "well - you think of something better!" defence of it. Here's one - just leave the bloody hill like it is!)

So - kudos to Moa for bravely cashing in on this sentiment in an effort to sell us more beer. But I can't help but wonder if, in launching their search for publicity, Moa have fully considered this, combined with this. Or even this.

So - question ... can you incite an offence against property, or threaten in writing to damage property, that has not yet been created? Discuss amongst yourselves.

(Oh - in the midst of writing this post, I found this story on the ad. Apparently the brewery's market manager Sunil Unka says that Moa will look at paying the legal fees of anyone who acts on their offer. Very nice - but who will pay yours?)

Comments (10)

by Claire Browning on May 23, 2011
Claire Browning

I preferred this effort. Which is also apt, if you think about it.

"A group of Mt Victoria flatmates have come up with an alternative sign to Wellington International Airport Company's Wellywood sign.

"Film industry worker Tim Hope and apprentice builder Sam Cameron, both 24, spent yesterday putting up the $87 plywood FAIL sign on top of their rented Alexandra Rd property, which would overlook the Wellywood sign ... "

by Andrew Geddis on May 23, 2011
Andrew Geddis

Ah, yes ... but do they have resource consent for that sign (and do they need it)?

by Claire Browning on May 23, 2011
Claire Browning

Oh dear. More apt than even I knew.

Better get back to my day job then, while I wait for Graeme to come and tell us the answers ...

by Claire Browning on May 23, 2011
Claire Browning

Better: Moa could "look at paying the legal bills" of anyone who wants to challenge Infratil's resource consent? Or giving them 15 crates of beer, though I imagine that may not be the beverage of choice. Though I'm sure it's excellent beer.

I am being constructive, truly. What I've just done, you see, is add the RMA to your barrel of legal laughs. What, if any, civil legal avenues would be available to an objector (assuming the criminal ones are, well, criminal - and of course, one should never assume)? Discuss ...

by Chris Webster on May 23, 2011
Chris Webster

we promise not to covet this sign .. we will not peek over the fence -- and  we promise to ignore it when we fly in and out - mostly out of wellington .. the best place in the world to fly out - more so now there's a naff sign on the hill --

infratil - sounds like a cough medicine

maybe it needs to go back inside its pumpkin and consider its options - before its stock takes a hit ... (and I dont mean physical)

by Paul Corrigan on May 24, 2011
Paul Corrigan

I probably wouldn't give an aviating corpulent rodent's posterior about this sign.

Except that I find the whipped-up mob-rule aspect of this business disturbing, especially among some who populate Kiwiblog's threads -- "freedom and democracy as I demand it. Now!"

The airport company owns the land, and it has the necessary permission to put up the sign, doesn't it?

Simply reciting and chanting the now-becoming-familiar litany of 'tackiness', 'embarrassment', blah-blah doesn't make the sign wrong.

I was in an e-mail exchange with a national broadcaster yesterday about this. He wanted to know what the sign did for Wellington.

I told him that I don't know. No-one knows until it goes up and we all see what the effect will be.

It might turn out to be a dog. But you never know, it might be one of those things everyone hates at first and then later they ask: "What was all the fuss about?"


by Andrew Geddis on May 24, 2011
Andrew Geddis


There's a fine line between genuine popular unhappiness and "whipped-up mob-rule". But insofar as there is a deeper point to this, Danyl at Dimpost lays it out here.

"Does a privately run corporation have the right to dictate to an entire city how it is ‘marketed’ and perceived internationaly? That is why we have an elected, democratically accountable council, after all."

by Paul Corrigan on May 24, 2011
Paul Corrigan

Hi, Andrew:

It seems to me that Danyl at Dim Post overcooks it.

'Dictate' means, among other things, 'state or order authoritatively'. 'An order or principle that must be obeyed'.

These imply coercion or force; being controlling. Some strongarming.

I don't see how this privately run corporation is doing any such thing by putting up a large sign on land it already owns after having complied, so it seems, with all the necessary legal processes.


by Claire Browning on May 24, 2011
Claire Browning

Right-o. I embark on this with a heavy heart. It is bound to end badly. However.

Here are some assumptions:

  • the sign is not a permitted activity under the district plan,
  • resource consent was therefore required (extrapolating from the fact that one was given),
  • the resource consent application post-dated 1 October 2009,
  • consent proceeded non-notified.

The council did not have to publicly notify the application, in other words, hear public submissions on it (it must publicly notify if it decides that the activity will have or is likely to have adverse effects on the environment that are more than minor).

Nor (arguably) did it have to conduct a limited notification process for affected persons, for whom “the activity's adverse effects on the person are minor or more than minor” (ie, collective civic embarrassment?), because it must determine persons are not affected if it would be unreasonable in the circumstances to seek their written approval. (Would this have been unreasonable?)

However, in particular, a consent authority “may publicly notify an application if it decides that special circumstances exist in relation to the application”. (Is this just in the limited kinds of cases set out in subs (3)?)

Here, then, is a legal option: judicial review of the decision not to notify, on the grounds that special circumstances did and do exist.

It is part-owned Council land. Council is in partnership with the airport. There’s a public interest, and a potential conflict of interest.

A reasonable decision maker acting reasonably would have factored in those circumstances, and taken extra care to ensure the process was democratised (if not recusing themselves altogether). The process followed by the airport was not an acceptable substitute.

To be sure, there may be less expensive, more direct, overall quicker and better ways of getting a result, public pressure being the first option, civil disobedience another. I mean, who in their right mind wouldn't prefer a good bonfire, the hilarity of working out new ways to swap the E for an A, and so on.

But failing that …

by Andrew Geddis on May 24, 2011
Andrew Geddis


It ain't my town, so I don't really have a dog in this fight (albeit that I do travel through the airport fairly regularly). But don't you think you're downplaying both the intention behind this sign and its likely future role? The airport's CEO has been clear it is intended to"brand" Wellington. It will be the first thing people see about the town as they disembark from their planes. You can bet it will be a staple image in every brochure/story about the place as a destination. So it is a bit more than "just a sign" ... and there is an element of a private company "dictating" the way that Wellington as a place will be portrayed/perceived for the future.

As for all the necessary legal procedures being fulfilled, Claire's gone above and beyond the call of duty on that one!


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