PHOTO/FILE

TOM TAYLOR
tom.taylor@age.co.nz

Organisers have made the call to postpone Wairarapa’s longstanding wine and food festival, Toast Martinborough.

Originally scheduled for Sunday, November 21, the event would now take place next year on Sunday, January 16.

The decision came a year after organisers decided to cancel Toast 2020 due to covid-19.

Toast general manager Ariel Codde said the decision to reschedule came as a result of the continued risks of the covid-19 delta variant outbreak in New Zealand

“It’s in the best interest for all involved to have a safe event, and that’s what we want to do,” Codde said.

She said the uncertainty on New Zealand’s alert levels next month made it almost impossible to plan a large-scale event.

“Obviously, with the current outbreak, it hasn’t got much better. You can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel that you need to have the certainty to push forward. And being in level 2 and having those restrictions does make having 8500 people coming into a small town hard to manage.”

Codde said Toast took an entire year to plan, and with any schedule change came more challenges.

“Toast Martinborough has many stakeholders and lots of cogs in the wheels that turn to make the event happen.”

She said festival organisers also wanted to wait until the Government gave more certainty about the mandate for vaccine certificates at large-scale events.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern vaccine certificates that people would need to prove they were fully vaccinated before entering “high-risk” events and venues.

Although the Government had not yet detailed exactly which events or venues would require vaccine certificates, Ardern did confirm that everyone wanting to attend a summer festival would need to be vaccinated.

“Go out and get vaccinated now because you will need that vaccination certificate to be a part of that large-scale event,” Ardern said.

Codde said that until more details emerged, Toast wanted to play things on the safe side.

“We have the whole town involved in the event, and we want everyone in the town to be safe as well as people coming into the town. To plan for something that we haven’t got all the information for – it’s a bit hard, especially five weeks out.”

The regional tourism organisation, Destination Wairarapa, said the move to postpone the event was justified.

“Considering the world that we live in, and how unpredictable it is currently, the fact that they haven’t cancelled is a really positive thing,” general manager Anna Nielson said.

She said Toast created a small spike in Wairarapa’s GDP because of the number of people coming into the region and spending money on accommodation, transport, food, and activities.

Although Wairarapa would feel the loss of the event in the short term, Nielson said it would still experience an economic benefit in January.

“For it to be postponed is a shame, but the potential investment isn’t leaving the region; it’s just being moved to a different time of the year.”

Next year’s festival would spread across eight locations, including vineyards Palliser Estate, Escarpment, and Ata Rangi.

The 8500 ticketholders would have until October 29 to request a refund if they could not make the new date. The event was sold out, with 1000 people on a waitlist.



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