Iwi's lake race levy 'may cut numbers'

MIKE WATSON
Last updated 05:00 15/02/2013
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Ironman competitors will think twice if the entry fee to the Taupo event is increased, a competitor in next month's race says.

Ironman New Zealand representatives are to meet the owners of Lake Taupo - Ngati Tuwharetoa Maori Trust Board - this morning to discuss a levy on using the lake for the event.

It is understood the board is looking at a levy of $40 for each competitor, amounting to a total of about $60,000. It is entitled under its deed of settlement with the Crown to charge commercial entities for using the lake.

Seven-time Taupo Ironman competitor Neil Fleming said the costs of entering the event had already been increasing over the years.

"A lot of people I know have voiced their concern about the cost of entering the race. If it went up further I think many would say it is a mountain too high and not participate. I know that I would have second thoughts.

"I can understand the increases due to compliance costs, such as traffic management . . . but as competitors we don't seem to see the benefits."

Rory Magee, of Taupo, said he would consider competing in Australia if the Taupo entry fee increased.

The Ironman event has been held in Taupo for 14 years, and organisers said yesterday that it would remain so for the foreseeable future.

The organisation was not planning to move to another venue, IMNZ Asia Pacific marketing manager Jane Patterson said.

It was midway through a long contract to hold the event in Taupo, and there was no intention of entering into any discussion to move it away.

She would not discuss what the meeting with the trust board would entail. "We will not be making any threats to leave and, as far as we are concerned, Taupo is the home of Ironman.

"We have had a very good relationship with the trust board since the event moved to Taupo 14 years ago, and also with all the stakeholders.

"It is a ‘feel-good' event which is embraced by the community and almost a third of the town get behind it and help in some way to make it happen."

Economic impact surveys show the event, which has attracted 1450 entries this year, contributes about $4 million to the local economy.

Destination Great Lake Taupo chairwoman Kathy Guy said Ironman was Taupo's "flagship" event, and the town was looked upon by other communities as a model for how to run a successful international event.

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- The Dominion Post

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