Avondale's Dale the spider 'frightening and off-putting'

Dale the spider in Avondale (Dan Satherley)
Dale the spider in Avondale (Dan Satherley)

The man who gave birth to Avondale's most iconic resident wants arachnophobes to put the bug spray down.

Dale the spider spun his barbed-wire web 15 years ago, with a little help from Avondale Business Association chairman Duncan McDonald.

But there are now questions being asked if he's the right ambassador for the up-and-coming west Auckland suburb.

"Some newcomers to Avondale find him frightening and off-putting," says Whau Local Board member Catherine Farmer, who's suggested replacing Dale with something that recognises the region's Maori history.

"I'm not saying I don't like it… it's definitely part of Avondale's history. It just may not be an appropriate location, so possibly moving him is a good idea."

Dale commands prime real estate on the suburb's main shopping drag. Strangely, the statue isn't even accurate - he's black, but true Avondale spiders are brown.

"The Avondale spider does not have a web either," says Ms Farmer.

Kids don't care what colour he is, or his skills with silk - to them, he's the king of all Avondale spiders.

"The spider's part of our culture - he's actually enrolled at our school," says Avondale Primary School principal Greg Chalmers, before admitting that at 15, Dale probably goes to nearby Avondale College now.

"I can see the point Catherine's making, but certainly the school doesn't have any issue with the spider. Dale's worth sticking with. I'm open to a discussion about other options, but I'd have to see what's on the table."

Whilst popular with the kids, Dale has made a few powerful grown-up enemies. Patients at the first-floor Avondale Dental across the road have little choice but to stare into his dark, foreboding eyes.

"The dentists there have said to me his clients are put off by a symbol like that," says Ms Farmer.

"We do get comments about it from time to time," Avondale Dentist receptionist Emma told Newshub. "Kids love it. Adults think it's a bit strange."

For Mr McDonald, the only strange thing about Dale is that anyone would want to get rid of him.

"I don't think anyone would be game enough - apart from Farmer - to say he should go."

While both he and Ms Farmer are on the local board, there's nothing it can do to force Dale out. That decision rests with Auckland Council.

"It's not within our remit - the spider doesn't belong to us," says Ms Farmer.

Ms Farmer says the board's next meeting will probably focus on the cancellation of the Flo Apartments project.

"This is what the local board should be involved with - not trying to crucify Dale."