By ROBYN BRISTOW
The North Canterbury economy will take a hit from the Covid-19 Red traffic light setting, with a myriad of events cancelled across the region as omicron makes its presence felt in New Zealand.
Heather Warwick chief executive of Enterprise North Canterbury, the regions economic and development agency, says the impact of the loss of events will be “devastating” for all event organisers, and North Canterbury.
Events play a major role in the region bringing visitor spend, and enjoyment and pride for residents, she says.
“They have been on edge waiting for any change in traffic light levels, and now it has happened. Worst of all, it has happened at the height of event season.”
Agricultural and Pastoral shows, festivals, rallies and sports events tumbled one after another this week, because organisers could not see a way through the red tape to run their events.
With no end in sight for a setting change, they were left with few options but to cancel or postpone. All would have brought in valuable dollars to communities, and the region, as visitors and locals, starved of events, welcomed the opportunity to enjoy country hospitality and entertainment.
All North Canterbury A & P shows have been cancelled. The Kaikoura, Cheviot, Hawarden, Oxford and Amuri A & P committees were left with no choice but to abandon plans for the traditional annual gatherings showcasing their districts.
But organisers could not find a feasible, or economic way of staging an event for their communities and visitors with just 100 people allowed through the gates.
At Orange, the shows may have been possible, but a heavy weight would have fallen on the shoulders of volunteers charged with verifying vaccine passes at entrances.
It is the second time in five years the Kaikoura A&P show has been cancelled — once due to the 2016 earthquake and once because of the pandemic.
Secretary Laura Page says it was a difficult decision.
‘‘We’ve gone back and forth for weeks, but we just couldn’t see a way to run it
‘‘It’s gutting for us because we bring people into the area, which our businesses so badly need.’’
It is also the second time the Oxford show has been cancelled due to the pandemic.
Show president Leititia Schroeder says it is ‘‘gutting’’ for the committee, exhibitors, community, and local businesses that the show has had to be cancelled, but the committee could not find an economic way of running the annual event with a limit of 100 spectators.
The committee wants to thank its loyal sponsors, and the many volunteers who support the show.
It was now focused on looking forward to 2023.
The Hanmer Springs Pools and Spa, however, is bringing some welcome news for people wanting to chill out and enjoy getting away from home.
The complex will remain open from 10am to 7pm daily. Vaccine passes are required, along with scanning in, social distancing and masks indoors.
However, it may have to close up shop if case numbers and hospitalisations grow in Canterbury.
At this stage no bookings are required, but check the website as this may change for certain days.
The inaugural Waimakariri Country Music Festival, due to be held from February 11 to 13 at the Rangiora Showgrounds, is another victim.
The organisers have now turned their attention to bringing the event to Rangiora next February.
Traditional Waitangi Day celebration cancelled
All Together Kaiapoi has cancelled its Waitangi Day Family Celebration, but co-ordinator Linda Dunbar says the Kaiapoi Garden Competition judging will go ahead tomorrow (Friday, January 28) as planned.
The Waitangi Day race meeting at Rangiora, hosted by the Amberley Trotting Club, has also had the brakes put on its meeting due to the cost of running a meeting with a limit on spectators to help pay the bills.
North Canterbury athletes training for the two-day Coast-to-Coast, held annually in February, will be bitterly disappointed.
The two-day event has been cancelled for the first time in 40 years.
Organisers are still planning to run the one day Kathmandu Coast to Coast event and Mountain Run (longest day, longest day age group, one day three person teams, and mountain run).
Gone also is a Planty Affair, an annual market held at the Rangiora Showgrounds.
The market was earmarked for March 6, and last year attracted hundreds.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Canterbury and Fun HQ have postponed The Big Bounce fundraiser.
The fundraiser was scheduled to be held in Rangiora’s Victoria Park, on Thursday, January 27, but it has now been rescheduled for Thursday, April 28, during the second week of the school holidays.
People who have already bought tickets will have them transferred over to the new
date. Big Brothers and Sisters programme manager, Ellie Le Gros, says its disappointing to have to postpone the event, ‘‘but obviously we want to follow the rules and do what is best for the community’’.
People are able to hang on to their tickets to use for a new date, or alternatively receive a refund.
The Rangiora RSA Car and Tractor Rally on February 6, has also been cancelled leaving organisers and participants disappointed.