It’s a serious topic for the hundreds of film and tourism workers among the 2000-strong crowd, but Wellington’s Save the Hobbit rally had a terrific positive energy. The party atmosphere was helped by the music – Wellington bands like Fly My Pretties (I think!), Poi E! from the movie Boy, and when the time came to concentrate our attention on the subject at hand, a beautiful rendition of Pokarekareana.

The crowd fell silent and after an introduction from our newly-elected mayor (Celia Wade-Brown, who’s something of a tech geek), we heard Richard Taylor address the crowd, which he did with his usual blend of sincerity, passion and gentle humour. There’s a really nice account of the rally here on Kiwiblog.

I enjoyed playing ‘spot the Weta worker’ from the fantastic turn-out of crew jackets, hats and T-shirts with visual references to the various films they’ve worked on. A surprising number of them had small children and babies. I wondered how many children are being raised in New Zealand only because their highly-skilled parents emigrated here for LOTR. I thought of the hundreds of children that will grow up around our film industry, taking it as the most natural thing in the world to build a life around creativity and imagination. . As Taylor keeps stressing, LOTR has had a massive impact in providing a channel for creative, talented people to become all they can be, with a kind of imaginative freedom that they could only dream of before LOTR came along.

We bumped into Daniel Reeve, mapmaker and calligrapher for LOTR. He had (of course) a beautiful hand-lettered sign saying “New Zealand IS Middle-earth”. He’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Would he have become an artist without LOTR? Yes, he would probably have fitted in some painting and held occasional gallery exhibitions around his job at the bank. But that’s nothing compared to the full-time, international career he has as a working artist, the first ‘go-to’ guy for so many films that need his skills.
As usual we bumped into a couple of people who had moved to NZ as a result of watching the LOTR films – one a Mexican film-maker whose whole aim during her education was to come here and work on the hobbit. I forget that everyone in NZ doesn’t already know this – that those films have changed so many lives, worldwide, in so many ways.