The ring king's image issue

Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson
Is the lord of the rings starting to lose his golden glow?

It has been so long since Sir Peter Jackson cemented a seemingly unbreakable place in the hearts of most New Zealanders that it almost seems a shock when his image gets even mildly tainted.

Perhaps that description is on the strong side, but Sir Peter's latest public spat has certainly raised a few eyebrows and caused some to wonder if the hobbit king's feet are getting too big for his boots.

He has been waging war with Wellington Mayor Justin Lester over the city council's planned redevelopment at Shelly Bay, the dilapidated air force base on the Miramar Pensinsula - Jackson country, in other words.

The council and local iwi are considering a proposal to build 300 homes, a boutique hotel and a large village green. But that has not found favour with the acclaimed director, who made his stance crystal clear with a strongly worded social media post that denounced the proposal and revealed scathing emails sent to Mr Lester.

Sir Peter likened council staff to "snake oil salesmen'', made comparisons to corruption-plagued Albania, and referred to a fear of "blocks of Soviet-era apartments dumped on Wellington's picturesque peninsula''.

It is the sort of name-calling councils deal with on a daily basis, but it has been eye-opening to see such a prominent figure - a knight of the realm, no less - lobbing such grenades in public.

Sir Peter needs to be careful not to come across as a bully. His views on the redevelopment hold no more weight than the local butcher's, even if he has a few more Academy Awards on his mantelpiece.

In fact, he has already effectively been told to pull his head in by local iwi, who own Shelly Bay and have rightly pointed out it is up to them, not Wellywood's favourite son, what happens to it.

This issue maintains what can only, if delicately, be described as a bit of a rough patch for Sir Peter.

Last year, there was the epic failure of Mortal Engines - Sir Peter did not direct, but he was writer-producer, and his thumbprint was on the movie - and another public falling-out with the Wellington City Council over an abandoned joint movie museum and convention centre plan.

There have been the ongoing revelations in The New Zealand Herald about Sir Peter's role in lobbying the Government to maintain a generous film subsidy scheme that results in taxpayer money, and lots of it, going to wealthy Hollywood studios, and memories are still fresh of the "hobbit law'' and the pressure Sir Peter and others applied at the highest level to prevent actors and crew getting employee status and the benefits that come with that.

Even a low-key story earlier this month about Sir Peter's huge gun collection and its future under new laws made some slightly queasy in the wake of the Christchurch attacks.

Sir Peter's contribution to this country has been immense. The Lord of the Rings trilogy put us on the movie map, many of his other films - especially Heavenly Creatures - have the touch of a master, and his work in protecting and explaining our military
history is beyond compare.

Artist, philanthropist, historian - by so many measures, he is deservedly acclaimed one of the greatest living New Zealanders. But no-one is immune to criticism, whether that is of a bloated movie trilogy prequel or the way in which one refers to the local council.



There can be a fine line between attacking the ideas and attacking the man behind them. I am not sure if the balance is right on this one.

lets face it no one has the right to say anything about someone made great by making movies that are to long /

Not a word. Hush. Hollyrood might boycott the country.