Gate­house at­tracts tourists

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page - By KA­T­RINA TANIRAU

Fif­teen years ago Sir Peter Jack­son flew over the out­skirts of Mata­mata and found his per­fect Shire at the Alexan­der Farm on Buck­land Rd.

Academy award win­ning art di­rec­tor Dan Hen­nah was there with him.

‘‘When I came here in 1998, this town wasn’t vi­brant. Be­lieve me Mata­mata didn’t have that on its own – most ru­ral towns were like that back then,’’ Mr Hen­nah said.

‘‘ Now, Mata­mata is a des­ti­na­tion town. Peo­ple come from Auck­land and in­stead of go­ing straight to Ro­torua they stop in here.’’

Hob­biton and Mata­mata’s as­so­ci­a­tion with the Lord of the Rings tril­ogy has paid div­i­dends for the tourism in­dus­try in Mata­mata as has the re­design of the Mata­mata i-SITE Gate­house, Mr Hen­nah said.

‘‘This is Mata­mata’s point of dif­fer­ence. It now has a state­ment.’’

Mata­mata i- SITE Gate­house man­ager Sue Whit­ing said the Gate­house has def­i­nitely achieved its goal, which was to stop traf­fic.

‘‘Now we have to look at an ex­ten­sion be­cause there sim­ply isn’t enough room for all the peo­ple who are coming through the doors,’’ she said.

And that’s what brought Mr Hen­nah and his wife Chris to Mata­mata be­fore they headed to the United States for a num­ber of awards cer­e­monies in­clud­ing the Golden Globes and the Academy Award nom­i­nees gath­er­ing.

‘‘Along with Brian Massey we came up with the de­sign for the i-SITE Gate­house, so now we will look at what we can do to ex­tend it,’’ he said. ‘‘I al­ways en­joy coming back here (to Mata­mata). I have a soft spot for this place.’’

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