Monday Moaning

New Zealand pushing plans to drill Middle-earth as Hobbit filming ends

Plans to ramp up fossil fuel exploration, coal mining and sea bed dredging have New Zealand environment groups worried.

Still from The Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring.

It’s probably safe to assume that New Zealand‘s conservative Prime Minister John Key likes the Lord of the Rings films and is probably partial to a little bit of Hobbit.

After all, ever since the short stumpy bloke with the hairy feet went off to try and chuck a ring down that hole in Mount Doom, New Zealand’s tourism bosses have been as happy as Orcs at an all-you-can-eat Elf buffet.

According to the New Zealand Tourism Board, about 13 per cent of overseas tourists between January and March took part in some sort of “Hobbit experience” while hanging around all those deep blue lakes, snow-tipped mountains and green, craggy valleys that are the cinematographer’s dream. The board credits the film for tens of millions of dollars in tourism income.

New Zealand has long pushed its international image under the signature “100 % Pure New Zealand” marketing brand. Last year the marketing people tweaked the brand to “100 % Middle-earth” to further cash-in on the film series’ international reach. The campaign saw a 23 per cent increase in visitors from the US, seen as a key market.

Filming for the third Hobbit movie ended in New Zealand only last week, with the final installment set for release sometime around December 2014. That leaves plenty more time for New Zealand’s tourism industry to playfully twiddle with Bilbo Baggins’ curly hair.

But just days before filming ended, National Party leader Prime Minister Key – who is also the tourism minister – delivered a YouTube address that made clear he thinks the future for New Zealand lies not so much in filming Middle-earth, but drilling it for oil and gas. He said:

New Zealand’s natural landscapes are part of what makes this country so special and unique. No matter where I am overseas people want to talk to me about how beautiful our scenery is…

I believe that energy and resources could well be a game changer for New Zealand. The next five years are crucial as we encourage further exploration. This is important because if we are to increase our oil and gas exploration by 50 per cent, we could potentially earn Royalties of up to $13 billion, which is huge…

Ultimately we need to grow our economy by increasing our earning potential. That’s the only way that our government can provide the resources that our families need and the jobs our families want.

See the video & read more

See the video & read more

Opinion:

Lord of the Rings which has bought New Zealand so much, and possibly so much more yet is going to be pushed aside for the energy hunt.

New Zealand is often considered as one of the world’s last pristine countries in the western world.

If these plans for mining, oil exploration, etc go ahead, the country’s reputation is going to take such a hammering, it’ll never recover. People will stay away in droves.

Shame really.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. This is the sort of nation that has a lot of alternative methods for energy production. I can imagine cash has exchanged hands to change policies in favour of oil exploitation.

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  2. Money, the root of all evil is about to destroy a beautiful country.

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