Light­ing up an Auck­land icon

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JOHN AN­THONY

Whether mark­ing an in­ter­na­tional dis­as­ter or cel­e­brat­ing gay pride - the chang­ing colours of Auck­land’s Sky Tower gets peo­ple talk­ing.

Last week the land­mark build­ing was lit blue for the prostate can­cer foun­da­tion’s na­tional aware­ness cam­paign Blue Septem­ber.

The colour con­fig­u­ra­tion is one of many dif­fer­ent light­ing set ups booked into the Sky Tower’s busy sched­ule. Colour com­bi­na­tions could last for as lit­tle as one day or as long as a month.

Usu­ally the Sky Tower’s colour com­bi­na­tions are planned months in ad­vance but some­times it is changed at short no­tice to mark ma­jor in­ter­na­tional events, like the French tri­colour for the 2015 Paris at­tacks.

The pub­lic are wel­come to make a for­mal re­quest to have the Sky Tower lit in sup­port of a spe­cial cause or event.

SkyCity se­nior rig­ging and grounds su­per­vi­sor Paul Novella, who has been in­volved with the light­ing at SkyCity for more than nine years, says for short no­tice jobs only the LED light­ing on the top sec­tion was changed. This could be done in about five min­utes us­ing com­puter soft­ware.

But chang­ing the colour of the en­tire tower was a much more in­volved process, tak­ing up to three hours.

A full colour change re­quires 48 lights to be re­placed on four sep­a­rate light stacks at the base of the tower.

Dif­fer­ent colour bulbs are in­stalled and coloured sil­i­con sheets cut and placed over the lamps.

The base lights use 1000 watt en­ergy sav­ing light bulbs, which cost about $80 each and il­lu­mi­nate the tower’s shaft and pod sec­tion.

The top sec­tion and an­tenna mast are lit by 25 LED lights stag­gered in five bands over the length of the mast.

The lights are pro­grammed to switch on at sun­set and off at sun­rise and will soon be ad­justed for day­light sav­ings.

‘‘When we did it the first time there was noth­ing but re­views,’’ Novella says.

There are five work­ers in the light­ing team and be­ing com­fort­able at heights is a ne­ces­sity for the job.

‘‘You need to have a pretty good head on your shoul­ders.’’

Dur­ing the 2011 Rugby World Cup the tower’s colour changed on a daily ba­sis de­pend­ing on which na­tions were play­ing. rave

CHRIS MCKEEN / FAIRFAX NZ

SkyCity’s rig­ging team change the Sky Tower lights to blue for Prostate Can­cer Aware­ness Week.

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