Coun­cil comes to the party

Auckland City Harbour News - - Front Page - By Staff re­porters

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.

Photo: BEN CAMP­BELL

Pa­cific style: Le­olani Gal­lardo per­forms at last year’s Pasi­fika Fes­ti­val.

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