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Monopoly game is above board

The region’s Chamber of Commerce is keen to set the record straight after news of its latest fundraiser raised some eyebrows in Featherston, with claims by some that it’s a “fail in representing the region”.

Local Facebook page “You Know You Are From Featherston When…” lit up last weekend when a user asked, “How come Featherston doesn’t get a square on this Monopoly board the Wairarapa Chamber of Commerce made?”

The post attracted over 50 comments.

Some commenters asserted it was “because Featherston is the Black Sheep” and “the orphan child” and that the omission of “a whole town” was “so typical.”

Others were more sanguine.

“Nice illustrations of local landmarks and legends. Good to see places like Pūkaha,” wrote one.

Another – a Featherston business owner – said they “thought hard about buying a space, but tiles were very expensive, and I just couldn’t do it. Simple as that.”

Talking to the Times-Age about the response from some members of the Featherston community, Business Wairarapa general manager Nicola Belsham stressed the Wairarapa Monopoly game “is a fundraising initiative” for members of the local chamber of commerce.

Money raised through the sale of the game – which will retail for between $80 and $85 when it launches in October – will help support services available to Business Wairarapa members.

These include a free business helpline, discounted training programmes, access to business-to-business networking opportunities, digital capability training programmes, and “newsletters, so members can find out about initiatives like Monopoly”, Belsham explained.

To secure one of the game’s 36 squares, members of Business Wairarapa or its sub-regional business organisation partners – Tupu Ana Masterton, Go Carterton, and Martinborough Business Association – had to “opt-in”, Belsham explained.

The cost of square sponsorship ranged from $2000 to $2500, while Chance and Community Chest cards cost $750.

Featherston-based businesses were made aware of the opportunity through the Business Wairarapa and Destination Wairarapa databases, as well as the databases of the other business associations across the region, Belsham said.

Disguised as Mr Monopoly, Belsham also visited Featherston businesses to raise awareness of the initiative and garner local sponsorship, to little avail.

“I spent a lot of personal time in Featherston trying to get a Featherston business to take a Featherston square. But unfortunately, none chose to do so.

“And I can’t force a business to do that.”

Masterton, Eketāhuna, and Carterton also do not have their own square for the same reasons, Belsham said.

Belsham is not unsympathetic towards Featherston residents who are sad not to see the town specifically represented in the game.

“We are equally disappointed and frustrated we couldn’t get [any Featherston businesses] over the line,” she said.

But she challenged the claim that Featherston was not included in the game.

“To say that Featherston is not represented is an outright untruth,” she said.

As well as being depicted in the board artwork, created by South Wairarapa artist and designer Jo Lysaght, Featherston features in a number of ways in the game, Belsham said.

“As the project came close to completion, we were fortunate that Featherston Business Engine came together due to the tireless efforts of Joanna Baldwin [Featherston Community Centre manager].

“As such, Business Wairarapa gifted a Community Chest card to the Featherston Business Engine [which is now a partner business organisation with the chamber of commerce], to the value of $750.”

The Featherston Community Centre also came to the party, sponsoring the first travel square on the board, which they have chosen to depict the cycle trail.

“We were thrilled to have the community centre on board, and their name appears on the game board,” Belsham said.

“I really hope that when people actually see the finished product, when they see the Chance cards and the Community Chest cards and what’s written on those, when they see the board game in its reality, and the townships and the local scenes on there, when they see the tokens, they’ll see it is holistic,” Belsham said.

“This is Wairarapa’s story told in a way it’s never been told before.”

Belsham invited businesses that didn’t get on board with the board game this time to get in touch.

“When we reprint in two years, we invite businesses to join us. So if businesses feel disappointed that they’ve missed out, send me an email, and we’ll book you in for the next one.”

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