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Taste of Auckland must find new home

JESS LEE AND JOE DAWSON
Last updated 05:00 14/03/2014

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Taste of Auckland organisers are cooking up a new plan for this year's festival after being given the boot from Victoria Park.

The Waitemata Local Board voted five to two in favour of adopting new event guidelines for the inner-city park on Tuesday which would rule out the four-day event.

No more than three events will be permitted to use the sports fields each year under the new rules. They must not last longer than five days, including the set-up and clean-up time.

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) says Taste of Auckland 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 meant parts of the site had to be fenced off.

Greg Moyle and Rob Thomas were the local board members who opposed the new guidelines.

"We were hoping to leave the door open to events like Taste. I understand the concerns of the sports clubs but the issue is balance for all users," Mr Moyle says.

"We could have worked together to minimise the impact of hosting events and had a positive outcome for everyone," he says.

Taste of Auckland director Robert Eliott told the Auckland City Harbour News that losing the venue would almost certainly spell the end of the festival.

But he has a more positive outlook following a meeting with ATEED on Wednesday.

"Obviously it's disappointing and clearly not ideal but in saying that ATEED has been proposing all sorts of venues which is really exciting."

Mr Eliott will not reveal which locations have been put on the table.

"You'll have to wait and see. The support from ATEED is more than compensation for the lack of foresight from the Waitemata Local Board," he says.

Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney says adopting the protocol is a step backwards for the CBD.

"There is a huge leveraging impact when events are centrally located. We know when an event like Taste occurs the economic activity outside the gates is much higher, when people go to the bars and shops."

He says he can understand the board wanting to protect the park but feels a "middle ground" approach - neither banning everything nor allowing anything - is required.

Grafton United Cricket Club chairman Nicholas Albrecht says the guidelines are a great result.

"I am all for events in Auckland but they have to be fit-for-purpose," he says.

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- Auckland City Harbour News

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