ourism and events have been the two sectors that have been hit hardest due to COVID-19.
In Hawke’s Bay, the events sector dodged a bit of a bullet in part due to our busy events period running between October and March. However, iconic events such as the Hawke’s Bay Marathon and the Big Easy were cancelled.
Although there’s no accurate economic data, it’s believed the events sector contributes about $22 million to the local economy.
For event organisers like Kevin Murphy, who is responsible for Napier City Council’s event portfolio that utilises venues such as McLean Park, COVID-19 has created a once in a lifetime disruption.
Kevin is also a New Zealand Events Association board member. Locally he’s seen as a champion of the events sector, having event managed a wide range of music and sport events for well over 20 years.
As part of the Government’s COVID-19 recovery, a $50 million Regional Events Fund has been created to stimulate domestic tourism and travel between regions through holding events. This is intended to support the tourism and events sector and replace some of the spend from international tourists as a result of COVID-19.
The Fund has been split across International Marketing Alliances (IMA) groupings based on their share of international visitor spending prior to COVID-19. Hawke’s Bay is part of the Pacific Coast cluster, which includes Coromandel, Bay of Plenty and Gisborne, which has received $2 million, with the Bay’s share being $600,000.
“Unfortunately Hawke’s Bay doesn’t have a huge major events portfolio that attracts international visitors, unlike Auckland and Northland which are getting $19 million, and I think it’s a bit out of kilter.
“I’m sure they’ll find ways of spending the money but perhaps it would have been better to distribute it more fairly.”
Hawke’s Bay’s share will be managed by RTO Hawke’s Bay Tourism, which will allocate funds to its own events such as FAWC and the Big Easy but can be used for event funding for new and existing events that drive ‘out of region’ visitation; capability or capacity building for event management (eg. manage event programme) for a lead entity or panel member, fund management/secretariat, Event strategy development, event feasibility studies and event development.
This work can be completed by using RTO staff, or by external resource or third party.
A wide range of events can be considered for funding. This includes new or one-off events, and across a broad range of sport, arts, cultural and business events. However, it will be up to the EIP to determine what events will receive funding, as all events that drive out-of-region visitation are eligible to receive funding.
Kevin says New Zealand doesn’t really have many major events and he believes that the $50 million could well stimulate new event ideas from event promotors and creatives.
“It shouldn’t be treated as a way of having to give the money out to existing events but also enable people to throw up some new ideas. There’s nothing to lose from this approach.”
Kevin cites the likes of event promoter Duco Events which has created unique events such as the Rugby League World Cup and more recently, the Black Clash cricket game featuring former Blackcaps and All Blacks, which McLean Park hosted at the beginning of 2020.
Kevin says ultimately content is king and as a region there are limitations from trying to create events from within.
“If you create a new event, the first year is so hard and it’s usually only cobbled together and it can be hard work, so you end up bidding for events that have been successful elsewhere.”
Napier City Council, Hastings District Council and Hawke’s Bay Tourism have signed up with Sports Marketing Australia (SMA), an organisation that match-makes councils and tourism organisations with events.
Sports Marketing Australia has worked with over 62 councils and tourism organisations across Australia and placed over 700 events in 2019.
The company has been given a list of local venues and their capabilities and has already put forward several potential events such as a yoga festival, that’s proven to be successful in Byron Bay, New South Wales and an adventure race.
In Australia SMA has developed an events placement programme that aims to attract and host major events that provide economic, community and branding benefits for regions.
“It’s only early days but it’s looking really positive and it opens a door for us to new events. It’s not a silver bullet but it’s certainly an opportunity as the events are proven and can be replicated elsewhere such as Hawke’s Bay.”
Kevin says the councils and the RTO will continue to build relationships with local and national promotors such as Duco Events, Live Nation, SMC Events and Nitro Circus, and the region will also get opportunities to host sport events that move around on a cycle such as Phoenix football games, international cricket matches and Super Rugby games.
“We haven’t had an Australia A League football match at McLean Park since 2013 so that’s something I would love to see.”
To find out more about these events visit