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The Lord of the Rings and how people think about New Zealand

15 February, 2013

The Lord of the Rings and how people think about New Zealand

Blockbuster movies like The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit have changed how people think about New Zealand says Ian Brodie, former Communications Manager for Hobbiton Movie Set & Farm Tours.

Three and a half years ago Brodie moved to Matamata and has seen first-hand how The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies have changed the identity of the small town.

He’s giving a free public lecture to the New Zealand Geographical Society at the University of Waikato this week, 21 Feb, discussing movie imagery and its influence on tourism development.

Before working for Hobbiton Movie Set & Farm Tours Brodie wrote and photographed a number of movie location guidebooks. In total he’s published 18 books, his most popular being The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook. He also has a New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to tourism and writing.

“There are a number of different places around that world that have been stamped as locations for films. New Zealand and Matamata are prime examples of those,” says Brodie.

“Film shapes how people think about a landscape and the effect is usually emotive. When they visit the location in real life they revisit those emotions. You only have to look at Matamata for an example of this; what used to be a sleepy country town is now synonymous with Hobbiton.”

A quick Google image search of Matamata is proof says Brodie; the first 12 pages being filled with pictures of the movie set.

“The Matamata i-SITE used to get around 50,000 visitors a year, since The Lord of the Rings they get around 300,000. These movies have literally made Matamata a place to visit on the world stage.”

The same effect is changing New Zealand’s image on a global scale, says Brodie.

“Movies like The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit have done more for tourism in New Zealand than the Rugby World Cup or Americas Cup. We are now known as a film location, and as a place New Zealand is now stamped as ‘Middle Earth’.”

His lecture takes place at the University of Waikato, room I2.22, on 21 Feb, at 7.30pm. He is being hosted by the Waikato branch of the New Zealand Geographical Society.


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