Council comes to the party
THE PASIFIKA Festival will be scaled back to one day this year after a last-minute bailout by the Auckland City Council.
The event’s opening night concert was cancelled last week because of a lack of funds, leaving March 14 as the sole festival day.
Recent pullouts from major festival sponsors and increased running costs caused a $355,000 deficit for this year.
However, a $225,000 rescue package from the council’s arts, culture and recreation committee last Wednesday means the event will be able to continue.
Pasifika, now in its 18th year, is the largest Polynesian festival in the world, attracting around 250,000 people to Western Springs Park.
The committee had the option to either cancel the event, fund the entire shortfall or to reduce the scope of the festival, bringing the deficit down by $130,000.
Committee chairman Greg Moyle says the festival is fantastic value for money and benefi the whole region.
“There’s no way in the world we want this to not happen.
“We’re committed to the event going ahead.”
He says the council’s first step will be to approach sponsors again and if that’s unsuccessful, money will come from the council’s city events budget.
He says he’s disappointed funding was pulled so close to the event.
“Once you’ve made a commitment you should follow through with it.”
Deputy mayor David Hay, who voted against the bailout, says ratepayers shouldn’t be expected to pick up the tab for the event at such short notice.
“Ratepayers just can’t keep funding these sort of things. Sooner or later someone’s got to say enough is enough.”
Mr Hay says a gold coin donation from visitors to the event could provide an alternative source of funding.
“If 220,000 people go and put a dollar in, you have the shortfall.”
Councillor Cathy Casey, who supported the additional funding, says she was horrified at Mr Hay’s reluctance to help fund the festival.
“For him to suggest that as a council we allow the plug to be pulled is an insult to the thousands of volunteers who work hard to make this one of the best and brightest events in this city, indeed in this country.”
The Pacific Islands Board Auckland City announced yesterday it would organise and fund the festival’s launch.
But the move has been described by festival director Ole Maiava as “a lot of people just knee jerking”.
“Yes we’ve been hit by the recession and costs need to be cut so I’m taking a prudent approach.”
Mr Maiava says he has no concerns at all about the future of Pasifika and is already in the planning stages of next year’s event.
Pacific style: Leolani Gallardo performs at last year’s Pasifika Festival.