Hawkes Bay Today ñ Weekend, Saturday, 18 October 2003

A particularly nice shade of yellow

The people of Waipawa, we salute you.

The fibrous concrete duck that adorns the main street has come under attack from an Auckland radio announcer, but the town remains upbeat despite the abuse.

Their response shows a certain confidences sadly lacking when some of Dannevirkeís residents got themselves into a lather over plans for a giant Viking statue that was proposed for the entrance of their town.

The tragic reality is that with banks, shops and hospitals leaving our smaller settlements, many are struggling to survive. Others are holding on, but lack the sense of purpose evident when they were more prosperous.

Waipawa, however, through Central Hawkes Bay mayor Tim Gilbertson, rose above radio jibes and had pride in their yellow icon and, therefore, their community. Somewhat tongue in cheek, Mr Gilbertson said it represented flight, integrity and freedom.

ìItís a particularly nice shade of yellow and all the negative comments are motivated by spite and jealousy.î He said.
The truth of the matter is that it would be hard to compare Waipawaís statue to Paris Eiffel Tower, or Trafalgar Square's Nelsons Column, but it does add something to High Streetís appeal. Its cute and raises a smile.

It also lifted the town's profile, bringing the community to the attention of thousands who probably didn't know it existed before hearing about it, and its duck, on Radio Pacific.

A quirky icon can be a much better way of promoting a town than a serious piece of art.

Napier has its Millennium sculpture, but who cares? It is ordinary.

Ohakune, on the other hand, has a huge carrot that was surplus to requirements after being used in a television commercial.

The carrot has put the town on the map, yet Raetihi, a similar community just a few minutes along the road from the King Country hamlet, slumbers in obscurity.

That is the power of a giant carrot, or in Waipawa's case, a giant yellow duck.

Let Auckland's radio stations jeer, Waipawa will have the last quack.

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