Editorial: Royal investment
What a great day it was for Marlborough. A day many, many people will talk about in years to come when they met William and Kate on their royal walkabout in central Blenheim.
Seymour Square was preened and primed for its big moment in the international lens. The fountain cleaned, the pavements washed, the gardens immaculate; all credit to Rosie Bartlett and her reserves people.
The square wasn't the star of the day - that honour went to the duke and duchess, and even the duke was a little overshadowed - but it provided a perfect backdrop for the wreath-laying ceremony and walkabout.
Mayor Alistair Sowman and his team had done an excellent job of preparing the town for the visit. The only thing they got wrong was the weather order; they should have held over one of those beautiful clear-sky days from last week. But nothing was delayed or disrupted by the showers.
The royals should have been delighted with their short time in Blenheim. Going by their smiles and relaxed approached, they did enjoy themselves.
They used the opportunity to meet so many people in the square, had lunch looking out over the vineyards at Wither Hills winery, and had a rare personalised tour of the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre with Sir Peter Jackson, the movie mogul who has his collection of flying-related memorabilia on public show there.
Centre manager Jane Orphan and her people had the museum just-so for the visit, and for the reception on Wednesday night for the touring media. In a priceless marketing opportunity, she led them on tours of the extensive collection. They couldn't believe the quality and range of what they were seeing, with one Brit journo saying it was like a huge version of a little boy's bedroom. Or rather what every little boy dreams of having in his bedroom.
Marlborough put on its best face for the world, and will reap the benefits. Hopefully all those extra Brits doing their travel research on the internet since the royal tour began will make it to New Zealand - and more importantly to this region - to enjoy our hospitality. Aside from the fun of having a royal visit, the increased exposure and tourism marketing is the great payoff for the country's investment in hosting William and Kate.
The Marlborough Express