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Event calendar back on track

March’s 121 dance music festival, in South Wairarapa, was one of the final big events in the area before the covid-19 lockdown. PHOTO/FILE


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Major social events are set to return to Wairarapa’s social calendar for 2021.

The teams behind the popular Wings Over Wairarapa and Toast Martinborough events have dates confirmed, and the local government taskforce charged with guiding the districts back from the covid-19 lockdown has pencilled in social occasions as milestones on the road to full recovery.

Anna Nielson, general manager of the Destination Wairarapa tourism board, said the area’s events calendar for spring and summer was “looking really strong, with well-known established events being confirmed and planning well underway”.

Nielson said she expected Marquee events such as Toast Martinborough and Wings Over Wairarapa to be “strongly in demand”.

Toast, one of New Zealand’s biggest wine festivals, is back in its traditional November slot.

Wings over Wairarapa remains one of the area’s big draw cards.

Bob Francis, chair of the organising Trust, said he hoped tickets would go on sale in next few weeks, with the weekend of February 26 to 28, 2021, scheduled.

“We’re really making great progress with the planning for the event,” Francis said.

“We’re pretty excited for what’s going ahead. It’s going really well.”

Nielson said the gatherings would “form a key part of our promotion of the region”.

“They are premier events in their field and will be the first of their kind on the calendar in New Zealand post-lockdown, so for that reason we are anticipating people from outside of the region to be even more motivated to come.”

She said smaller attractions, such as the Yarns in Barns book event, and the annual Pukaha Garden tour had a strong following, “which we believe will only grow as Kiwis look to explore their own backyard”.

The Wairarapa Joint Recovery Committee, which meets in Martinborough today, was formed in April after a report from the desks of each district’s chief executive – Masterton, Carterton, and South Wairarapa – recommended a combined approach.

It includes mayors, councillors, and iwi representatives.

The committee will discuss a report penned by Dave Gittings, the senior Carterton District Council staffer leading the operation.

The report includes a three-phase timetable for recovery over the next 12 months.

Recovery Committee chair Alex Beijen, South Wairarapa’s Mayor, said the 121 Festival, the last major event in Wairarapa before lockdown, had an economic impact of more than $653,000 to his district.

This was an example of the importance of events to the local economy.

“We have to keep an eye on the events and encourage them. They’re too important for us. But this it’s not us saying they’re going ahead, it’s us saying they should go ahead, all things being equal.”

– Additional reporting by Gianina Schwanecke


Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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