Awards mark Wellington as 'events capital' of NZ

Wellington's music, food and art events dominated at a national awards ceremony last night, confirming the city's status as the "events capital".

Wellington won five of the nine New Zealand Association of Event Professionals Awards, with World of WearableArt founder Dame Suzie Moncrieff also receiving a lifetime achievement award.

A total of 31 events and event professionals were finalists for the awards, including the NRL Auckland Nines, New Zealand Winter Games and Taste of Auckland.

Wellington On a Plate, with two, the World of WearableArt Show and the world premiere of The Hobbit were all named winning events last night.

The New Zealand Festival and Wellington Jazz Festival's Sue Paterson was named best event professional, for what judges described as a tireless effort to "grow visual and performing arts in New Zealand".

Wellington City Council economic development and arts committee chairwoman Jo Coughlan said the events provided clear economic benefits to the city.

It was estimated the three award- winning events generated more than $100 million for the Wellington region.

"They not only support spend in the retail, hospitality and accommodation sectors, they create employment and attract talent to the city," she said.

"We are committed to making Wellington a great place to invest and do business, and supporting events is a big part of that."

Head judge and former Rugby World Cup 2011 chief Martin Snedden said the judging panel was impressed by the number of high-calibre entries.

"It's exciting to see how many passionate, resilient and talented event professionals there are in New Zealand."

Snedden said Wellington On a Plate had established itself as one of the top three culinary events in Australasia.

"The innovation, support and economic success of the festival has set Wellington up as the culinary capital of New Zealand."

WoW was described as a unique event which led the world in wearable arts, while The Hobbit premiere was "an inspiring event".

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the city's success at the awards proved it was the "events capital".

"We are proud to host and support an impressive variety of innovative, exciting and quintessentially Wellington events."

The Dominion Post