LOCAL MARKET REPORT
As the cold weather starts to set in (was there a summer?) and the car-show calendar begins to be less active, I thought it would be appropriate to do justice to an inaugural event that took place this year on Banks Peninsula — La Grande Auto Show, held on Saturday March 18, 2017, at the Recreation Ground in Akaroa.
The idea took shape when a passionate group of individuals and car enthusiasts — including community-development advisors — felt the need to raise funds for the replacement of the Akaroa Health Hub, which is intended to succeed the old hospital that was damaged in the 2010 Canterbury earthquake.
The La Grand Auto Show was a complete success. It brought together many of Canterbury’s top cars and allowed people of all ages full access to view the vehicles and meet their owners. There were feature race cars and most exotic marques from all periods. The event was so successful that the organizers are now seriously considering making this an annual Akaroa event.
Just like the Art Deco Festival in Napier, La Grande Auto Show was an event driven by passion. It was great to see children and teenagers having fun. They got close to the cars, and one could see that, one day, these kids will become proud owners of their own classics.
We need more local events involving classic and vintage vehicles in New Zealand. We need community-development advisors in every town and city, who are passionate about their heritage, to create a lasting effect in their communities. Akaroa has that French connection, Napier has the art deco, Oamaru has the Victorian connection, and so on. There are so many small towns and villages in New Zealand that could boost their economies through themed events.
A well-themed event will see people attending from all over New Zealand and possibly from overseas. This means business for a community, with visitors spending on accommodation, catering, local produce and merchandise, souvenirs, etc. Participants and spectators drop plenty of cash into small-town economies, and this should bring a substantial positive economic impact to every community, while broadening the interest in classic and vintage vehicles.
Every event should become an integral part of a region’s identity, and, in New Zealand,
nature has been kind enough to provide us with the basic requirements. We have friendly cities, towns, and villages; scenic country roads; and beautiful walkways. These blessings aren’t just good for the people who live in those places but also for regional economies.
Classic and vintage vehicles have an honoured place in our culture, and for communities looking to up the ante, in terms of adventure or economic development, these vehicles should be considered, because they do contribute significantly to our economies.
For example, who would have thought that a parade of classic American cars could kickstart community development in Waitara? Americarna is, after all, a touring classic car show. Hosting Americarna in Waitara is a great example of how community development gathers momentum when there is an event to focus on, especially one which is guaranteed international coverage! The focus is on encouraging trade, as well as the participation of locals. On the day, 400 classic American cars cruise the main street as bands play, spot prizes get won, and a local MC rouses the crowds. The street is lined with entertainers, such as an American-themed clown on stilts and American-themed belly dancers; face painters; food stalls (including hangi); over 30 market stalls; and performances by local children.
Building on the skills of local residents, the power of local associations, and the supportive functions of local institutions, communitydevelopment organizers draw on existing community strengths to build a stronger, more sustainable communities for the future.
In Waitara, to organize the first Americarna, that meant collaboration and coordination, and using the main street and its retailers, instead of the beach. It was the community-development advisors who organized a town meeting to see what retailers and business people wanted to do for Americarna attendees. From this meeting, a business and promotions association was born to cater for the event. With Americarna as the catalyst, for the first time, all the Waitara retailers came together to close the main street, set up market stalls, and celebrate.
Schools and children also came together with local businesses to fundraise, as well as providing kapa haka groups, which performed powhiri and poroporoaki for the guests. Local businesses donated sound systems and trucks for stages, while local service clubs provided entertainment, marshalling, food, and cleanup crews afterwards. Even local bands had the chance to showcase their talent for US television.
And what a success this all was! Waitara retailers had their biggest trading day on record, and positive media coverage of a formerly down-on-its-luck town reached across Taranaki, Aotearoa New Zealand, and the US. Hundreds of Waitara residents came out, proud of their town, to celebrate together. Great show — great community spirit!
Until next month, drive safely.