The husband of a British envoy to New Zealand provoked a diplomatic incident after mocking the country’s iconic Wellington bucket fountain.
Toby Fisher, the husband of British High Commissioner for New Zealand Laura Clarke, dubbed the installation the “grossest fountain ever” in a tweet and his wife had to jokingly distance herself from his comments.
“After 4 years in Wellington, it’s time to be honest with you all, this is the crappiest fountain ever,” said the tweet that pissed off many.
Ms Clarke immediately joined in to say: “As the British High Commissioner in New Zealand, I would like to be clear that my husband’s views … in no way represent my views or the position of the British government.”
The fountain, built in October 1969 on Cuba Street, was originally called the “water cabinet”. The kinetic installation has several buckets that fill with water until they tip over, pouring and spraying a large chunk of water out of the fountain and onto pedestrians and spectators on windy days in Willington, which is not unusual.
Over time, the installation has become an iconic place for both tourists and locals alike for its absurdity and because it remembers simpler days.
Mr. Fisher isn’t the first person to comment against the infamous fountain as he historically has differing opinions.
Actor Elijah Wood urinated in the fountain buckets while drunk during the filming of the film Lord of the Rings. Buckets are reportedly often stolen, while many have spoken of its “sheer ugliness” and complained of its frustrating engineering.
However, the fountain also has loyal defenders.
“Was visiting on Tuesday. I grew up playing around that fountain. You don’t have the inner child desire to have a simpler time, ”said Megan, a resident.
Mona Krewal, a disappointed tourist, agrees with Mr. Fisher, saying, “I don’t even know why that weird thing is mentioned in the travel guides. I was extremely disappointed when I first saw it. It’s just ugly and when you pass by you get wet very often when you try to socially distance yourself from other people on Cuba Street ”.
After his tweet caused “considerable consternation in the Wellington community,” Mr. Fisher apologized.
“I am aware that this tweet has caused considerable consternation in the Wellington community. I’m sorry. I spoke badly. This was an autocorrect error. I meant “more elegant”, “Fisher tweeted.
The publisher of Domain Mail Joy Duncan newspaper once said, “I think it’s the sheer ugliness of the thing that fascinates. The fact that it doesn’t work efficiently only increases the viewer’s disbelief. “
An article in the Post in 1974 said, “Ooh and aah, in various languages, while tourists click camera shutters to capture the big moment always amuse ordinary shoppers on the street.”