Waikato Times
December 2, 2001

From Matamata to Hobbiton
Staff Reporter

Paeroa has its L&P bottle, Ohakune its carrot but Matamata could go one better renaming itself Hobbiton after the mythical village in JRR Tolkien's books.

Part of Peter Jackson's $600 million trilogy The Fellowship Of The Rings was filmed at Hinuera, south of Matamata, and the town's community board will decide on Monday whether to rename the town Hobbiton for the movie's December 19 premiere.

Trade New Zealand, the Film Commission and Tourism New Zealand all have plans to cash in on the hobbit hype, though Matamata-Piako mayor Hugh Vercoe says for Matamata it may not be easy.

The small mythical village Hobbiton was built on Ian Alexander's Hinuera farm, and while holes where the hobbits lived are still present on the farm Mr Alexander says he doesn't want people wandering over his property "willy nilly".

Mr Vercoe accepts the farmer's position but says the board and Sue Whiting from the Matamata Public Relations Association will discuss other options at Monday's meeting.

"Maybe all the council staff could dress up as hobbits for the day."

The Wellington City Council has planned to brand the capital Middle Earth for the Australasian premiere of the movie on December 19.

"I think it's a great idea but we can't go ahead and do it and have people expecting to turn up here and see things if there's nothing to see. We are very proud that a lot of the filming was done here.I'll be taking the idea to the meeting on Monday and we'll go from there."