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Glass half full for now

Left to right: More than 2300 people attended the Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival in Gladstone; the racing at the Castlepoint meet was spectacular to view; the tent village at the 121 festival at Tauherenikau racecourse. PHOTOS/JADE CVETKOV

But Wairarapa events face uncertain future
GP calls for personal responsibility

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
[email protected]

It was a great weekend for Wairarapa event-goers around the region, but the industry itself is dealing with concerns about the spread of covid-19 and further restrictions around travel being imposed.

A DHB board member has also called on the public to limit physical contact and avoid crowds.

From the Castlepoint Beach Races, to the Wairarapa Wines Harvest Festival in Gladstone and music at the 121 Festival near Featherston, the events drew thousands to the region.

For Harvest Festival organiser Liz Pollock, it was a “bittersweet” day as it was also her last one.

Pollock has been involved since the inaugural event 14 years ago.

She said she would miss it and the great team who helped put it together each year.

“After 14 years I’m not sure what else one can do with the event.

“It’s just so fabulous.”

She acknowledged there was some uncertainty about the events business in the current worldwide situation, but it hadn’t impacted on the weekend’s fun.

This year’s event attracted more than 2300 people, she said.

“It was a very happy, fun day out and the weather was beautiful.”

Scott Whitehead, president of the Castlepoint Racing Club, said it was a “stunning” day along the coast, with good beach conditions allowing the races to go ahead.

He said it was difficult to know for certain but estimated there were more people in attendance than last year’s “6000 or so” punters.

“We were really happy with how the day went.”

While he was pleased with the turnout, he said it was probably good they weren’t holding the event in three weeks’ time.

Destination Wairarapa’s general manager Anna Nielson acknowledged there was concern about upcoming Wairarapa events and government guidelines about large events were expected to be made public this week.

“It’s a very fluid situation and it’s a bit premature to say anything at this stage,” she said.

She said it was fortunate the long summer period was coming to an end though, and with it the large-scale events season.

“This gives us time to prepare,” she said.

Neilson said she was still glad to see people turn out for the big weekend of events.

“It was really nice to see ‘business as usual’, with people enjoying the sunshine and the best of Wairarapa’s hospitality.

“We do events exceptionally well here.”

Tony Becker, GP and clinical director at Masterton Medical and a Wairarapa District Health Board member, said people needed to take responsibility for themselves and limit physical contact and avoid crowds.

“People keep looking to hospitals and government for the answer – the answer lies with us, normal everyday people waking up and realising the answer is simply not to touch each other for a few weeks.”

He cited Singapore and Hong Kong’s SARS [severe acute respiratory syndrome] experience with helping them shift into social isolation mode and limit the spread of covid-19.

“We simply don’t know how many covid-19 cases are in New Zealand, but we need to slow the spread to avoid an Italy situation happening to us,” he said.

Wairarapa-based NZ First MP and Senior’s Minister Tracey Martin has been self-isolating since Saturday.

Though she had shown no symptoms of covid-19 it was a precautionary measure after meeting Australia’s Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, who was hospitalised after testing positive for the disease.

– Additional reporting RNZ

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