Event’s fu­ture in doubt

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By JESS LEE

SPORTS clubs and event or­gan­is­ers are still wait­ing to see if Taste of Auck­land will be wel­comed back to Vic­to­ria Park this year.

Auck­land Tourism, Events and Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment says the four-day event ben­e­fited the re­gion’s econ­omy to the tune of $550,000 and at­tracted more than 24,000 peo­ple.

But there were calls for it to be shifted else­where ( Auck­land City Har­bour News, De­cem­ber 20) af­ter dam­age from the last event caused parts of the site to be fenced off in the weeks be­fore Christ­mas.

The Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board has taken com­plaints from sports clubs af­fected by the par­tial clo­sure on­board and will present a new events pro­to­col for the park on Tues­day to help coun­cil of­fi­cers de­cide what can be held there in the fu­ture.

‘‘It will help to in­form any ap­pli­ca­tions for use of the park but it is never de­fin­i­tive and will still be guided by cir­cum­stances,’’ board chair­man Shale Cham­bers says.

Taste of Auck­land di­rec­tor Robert Eliott says not hav­ing the in­ner-city park as a venue would al­most cer­tainly spell the end of the fes­ti­val.

‘‘No suit­able venue has been of­fered as an al­ter­na­tive. It takes a year to or­gan­ise the fes­ti­val and we’re al­ready four months in to that so we’re hav­ing to plan the event as if it’s go­ing ahead at Vic­to­ria Park.’’

Mr Eliott pre­sented the Waitem­ata Lo­cal Board with what he says is a ‘‘win-win’’ so­lu­tion at the board’s public meet­ing last month.

He says an au­to­mated ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem would im­prove the qual­ity of the grounds for sports clubs and help re­duce the im­pact of host­ing events. Taste of Auck­land would con­trib­ute $50,000 over five years to­wards the cost of the im­prove­ment, while To­tal Touch would front up an ad­di­tional $30,000 over three to five years sub­ject to a sim­i­lar com­mit­ment from other groups.

But Mr Cham­bers says it would be years be­fore an ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem could be in­stalled even if it was ap­proved.

‘‘We are not push­ing for Taste not to hap­pen but the is­sue is whether Vic­to­ria Park is the place for it. We have sug­gested shift­ing it to an­other lo­ca­tion like West­ern Springs.’’

Grafton United Cricket chair- man Ni­cholas Albrecht says the club is wait­ing with in­ter­est to hear the board’s de­ci­sion.

‘‘The club feels strongly that the park should be main­tained pri­mar­ily for sports and recre­ational use.’’

Vic­to­ria Park touch rugby or­gan­iser Graeme Wal­lace says his club was un­able to play touch for six weeks in the mid­dle of the season fol­low­ing last year’s fes­ti­val.

‘‘We need strong fields that can take a knock – it’s just a dust box with­out proper ir­ri­ga­tion at the mo­ment. Taste of Auck­land is a great event but if it has to stay we don’t think it’s rea­son­able for it to take us out of ac­tion for more than two weeks.’’

Photo: PHOTOTEK.CO.NZ

Try this: Luke Whyle of­fers plan­tain to So­phie Mills, cen­tre, and Am­ber Ver­coe at Taste of Auck­land 2013.

Flash back: The front page of the Auck­land City Har­bour News, De­cem­ber 20.

Home ground: Grafton crick­eters in ac­tion against Pa­p­a­toe­toe at Vic­to­ria Park.

Shale Cham­bers

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