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Rings' Oscar success provokes toilet crisis in New Zealand
Updated: 2004-03-04 10:55

Oscar success for the "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," has prompted politicians in a part of New Zealand which formed the backdrop for the film into tackling an odd crisis: lack of toilets.

New Zealand authorities expect a new wave of tourists wanting to see the main locations in the movie, including the Alexander family farm south of here, which was turned into "Hobbiton", the fictional hometown of the film's lead characters known as Hobbits.

Mayor Hugh Vercoe called a council meeting Tuesday to vote on building a new block of toilets in the centre of Matamata-Piako town.

Until the fame brought on by the Rings trilogy, released over the last three years, Matamata was a small farm service town with modest facilities.

Vercoe said the latest Oscar success for the third instalment of the Rings was likely to result in even more fans flocking to the town.

"It's fantastic," he said. "I expect it is going to bring lots more people to see where the movie was filmed."

New Zealand's Tourism Minister Mark Burton said Tuesday that 2003 was a record year for visitors but in January this year arrivals were 11 per cent up at 244,300.

He said the Rings' Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson had made it widely known that the film was a New Zealand project.

"Only four short years ago New Zealand was not particularly well known as an international destination," Burton said.

"Last night, the entire world saw the proof that New Zealand is one of the most exciting, innovative and creative nations in the world -- an invaluable boost to our entire tourism sector."

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