Top British diplomat’s husband pokes fun at New Zealand’s ‘crappiest fountain’

The husband of New Zealand’s British high commissioner has announced his loathing of the Wellington bucket fountain, a well-known and polarising water feature that graces the centre of the nation’s capital.

Toby Fisher, husband of British commissioner Laura Clarke, tweeted: “After 4 years in Wellington, it’s time to be straight with you all, this is the crappiest fountain ever.”

Fisher’s joking statement is only the most recent in a long history of controversy surrounding Wellington’s bucket fountain. Actor Elijah Wood famously urinated in the fountain while in New Zealand filming the Lord of the Rings. The structure’s primary-coloured pails are semi-frequently stolen as souvenirs, and have to be reconstructed at a cost of about $2,000 a pop.

Installed in October 1969, the fountain dumps an erratic stream of water through its buckets, slopping a large portion over the surrounding pavement as it descends.

The Dominion Post newspaper recorded less-than-impressed letters to the editor from the time of its installation: “It is, I think, the sheer ugliness of the thing that fascinates,” one letter-writer wrote. “The fact that it doesn’t work efficiently merely adds to the onlooker’s incredulity.”

Clarke stepped in to jokingly denounce his remarks: “As British high commissioner to NZ I’d like to be clear that the opinions of my husband … in no way represent my views, or the position of the British Government.”

As British High Commissioner to NZ I’d like to be clear that the opinions of my husband @tobyfisherlaw in no way represent my views, or the position of the British Government.

(…. checks notes…)

The bucket fountain is a well-loved part of Wellington’s heritage.

— Laura Clarke (@LauraClarkeUK) May 28, 2022

Fisher’s remarks have been met mostly with good-natured jabs, including from several members of parliament.

“Fight me,” replied climate change minister James Shaw.

“You’re brave now Toby!” commented National MP and former opposition leader Judith Collins.

“Further evidence Au/NZ must cut all ties to the Crown and become a republic,” one tweeter replied.

Other Wellingtonians said Fisher had failed to grasp the fountain’s subtle charms. “There’s a fine line between iconic and crap,” one commenter explained.

“​​I love it because it’s so janky and ugly and when the water finally goes it’s underwhelming and it’s got pride of place in the city,” said another. “It’s terrible, that’s why it rules so hard.”


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.