Event funding recipients announced

There are exciting new events on Whanganui’s calendar including a night full of comedy laughs, games with more than one thousand young athletes raring to compete, and a multi-experience arts programme which promises to be ‘Monumental’.

Celebrations centred around music, film, comedy, sport, culture, kai and history all get a nod of approval as economic development agency Whanganui & Partners announces event funding recipients for the upcoming 2022-2023 events season.

The agency received a wide range of applications for support this year and Jonathan Sykes, who manages the event fund, said there were several new events which impressed enough to earn backing.

“We’re really excited to be supporting new groups, which are ready to bolster the city’s events offering and which help demonstrate that there’s a great variety of entertainment and experiences to be had here.”

There are three new events on the schedule; Monumental, Whanganui Comedy Gala, and the Colgate Games. Whanganui & Partners is also funding the popular Lanterns on the Awa and Puanga Kai Night events for the first time. The agency is continuing its funding of 10 other existing events which were again successful in their applications.

Monumental is billed as an original art event featuring a range of high-quality experiences with local, national and international content. Modelled on the ‘Open Late’ nights at City Gallery Wellington, Monumental will combine art, screenings, talks and music – plus all the necessary refreshments and socialising that go with a great festival.

The Whanganui Comedy Gala event will be hosted by a popular – yet to be announced – comedian and will feature crowd favourite Dai Henwood as one of the headline acts, along with three other professional headline comedians.

The Gala will also feature local and regional comedy talent to support the headline acts.

“Both of these new events have a good deal of thought and planning behind them and we know they’ll be enthusiastically received by audiences,” Sykes said.

“For a city growing at the rate Whanganui is, it’s important that we have a standard of event offerings to support the expectations of our community and to celebrate what we have to offer here. These events make a big difference to our accommodation and hospitality providers as visitor numbers are boosted.”

The Colgate Games will be held in Whanganui in January, after organisers altered plans to have the competition in Palmerston North.

Sykes said the Games’ were initially to be held in Manawatū but event organisers were interested in alternative venues. “Whanganui & Partners quickly took the opportunity to work with Athletics New Zealand to bring the event here instead.”

Whanganui will host more than a thousand competitors involved in the Colgate Games. Whanganui last hosted the Colgate Games in 2009 and Sykes said it was gratifying to again have an opportunity to showcase our region to the competitors, their support crews, families and spectators.

“Whanganui has a proven track record as a host for this type of competition, with the recent Hoop Nation Junior Showcase an example of the strengths our region has to offer events of this size.”

Whanganui & Partners was also continuing its support of Hoop Nation, the basketball event which brings more than 800 young players, their crews and support people to Whanganui.

“The events we support have appeal which spans across interests, age groups, activity levels and demographics,” Sykes said.

Puanga Kai Night, in August, offers an opportunity to experience Māori food and entertainment in an acknowledgement of ancestors who have gone before us, in reflection of our present lives, and in celebration of the year ahead. This annual event celebrates the Māori New Year and constellation of stars called Puanga, only seen on the West Coast.

Lanterns on the Awa is a cross-cultural celebration inviting people to enjoy Chinese performances, dance, music, martial arts and food. It also recognises the siter city status Whanganui holds with Lijiang, China.

Sykes said regular favourites Heritage Month, Three Bridges Marathon and Cemetery Circuit had all resecured funding. “We are also continuing our support of Masters Games, Vintage Weekend, Artists Open Studios, Cooks Classic, Welcome to Nowhere and Pride Week,” he said.

“These are all events our community looks forward to and which are proven to attract visitors to our city. They all add a distinct flavour to Whanganui and we know they boost our local businesses.”

“Bringing visitors to the city and gathering together as a community benefits Whanganui in so many ways- it brings revenue to local businesses, builds pride in our place and its opportunities, and adds vibrancy and life to our region and its people.”

Sykes said Whanganui & Partners would continue to consider assisting any new events which could add value to Whanganui. Supporting events is an important aspect of the agency’s work. Events play a crucial role in the city’s national profile as a place full of creativity, excitement and opportunity.

“We are very clear about the criteria event organisers must meet,” Sykes said. “We need to ensure events are able to attract visitors to the region, to demonstrate an intent to progress towards self-sufficiency, and to contribute to Whanganui’s reputation as a place with unique and exceptional experiences on offer.”

Whanganui & Partners also provides the successful event funding applicants with additional guidance and insight to help ensure events reached their potential.

“We don’t just announce funding without ongoing support. We contribute marketing skills and advice and we give feedback to help ensure these events are successful into the future,” Sykes said.

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