Council confirms Mudtopia commitment

Photo: Mudtopia/Twitter.

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Rotorua Lakes Council has confirmed its commitment to the Mudtopia festival, an event considered to have the potential to become a major iconic event for New Zealand.

Expected to bring both national and local economic benefits, the event was inspired by the world-renowned Boryeong mud festival in South Korea and will build on Rotorua’s reputation as a geothermal, spa and wellbeing tourism destination, featuring mud-related activities and top music acts.

It’s conservatively estimated the mud festival could attract 9500 to 21,600 attendees over the first five years of its growth and provide a $5m economic impact in its first year, growing to $10m by year five.

Negative publicity about the planned purchase and use at the festival of highly treated cosmetic mud powder from South Korea for a Boryeong component at the Rotorua event is expected to impact on its bottom line this year.

It’s expected to reduce the event’s ability to attract further sponsorship and grants and to potentially impact on ticket sales.

Following an update to Rotorua Lakes Council’s Operations and Monitoring Committee yesterday, the council reconfirmed its support for the Mudtopia festival, noting the increased risk but also noting that the value proposition of the event holds.

Most of the mud being used for the festival will be locally-sourced geothermal mud – which will be purchased in a treated powder form.

As part of a reciprocal arrangement with Boryeong, five tonnes of high quality, highly treated cosmetic mud powder will be imported from South Korea for a hands-on component that will promote the Boryeong festival.

Council staff and the event’s managers continue to work with the Ministry for Primary Industries to ensure all border requirements are met and there are no biosecurity risks.

In exchange for the $90,000 purchase, Boryeong is sharing its intellectual property, advice and support, and promoting the Rotorua festival.

The council’s Acting Group Manager Operations, Henry Weston, says while the impact of the negative publicity and incomplete reporting on the event could not be quantified exactly, it could see the festival cost Council between $234,381 and $575,871 according to best estimates.

The original business case estimated a surplus of about $38,000 in the first year with any surplus to go back into making the festival a success in future years.

Planning for the event was well advanced and withdrawing would cost the council up to $900,000 which is the total amount already committed and includes $460,000 already spent, Mr Weston said.

Rotorua Lakes Council committed to owning and underwriting the event, subject to government investment, in December 2015.

This followed extensive independent feasibility work, consultation and presentation of a comprehensive business plan.

The agreement with Boryeong was undertaken as part of the operational delivery of the festival.

About the cosmetic mud powder

  •   •  The event organisers have been working with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) regarding the importation of the mud powder for over a year to ensure all border requirements are met.

  •   •  The mud is sourced from a coastal area in South Korea and is turned into a powder.

  •   •  The powder will be treated to what is called “sterility” level. After being heat treated it will then go through gamma irradiation and a certificate of treatment will be required by MPI.

  •   •  A small test sample was imported under the supervision of MPI earlier this year and no risks were found.

  •   •  The 5 tonnes of powder won’t be used all at once – it may last several Mudtopia festivals.

  •   •  The cosmetic mud will not be used in any mud pit type activity but in a hands-on experience where people will be able to apply it to their skin.

  •   •  All mud from the festival will be contained, removed and disposed of by a waste management contractor.

  •   •  The cost of purchasing and importing the cosmetic mud powder from South Korea will come from the overall event budget, which includes funding from Rotorua Lakes Council, the government’s Major Events Development Fund, sponsorship and ticket sales.

  •   •  The mud powder purchase is part of a reciprocal arrangement with

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Posted on 04-08-2017 19:57 | By Merlin

Have all the pot holes and uneven footpaths been fixed???


Posted on 04-08-2017 17:04 | By Capt_Kaveman

of dirt of any kind should be frowned upon and not be allowed by prime industries

Agree with these comments

Posted on 04-08-2017 15:38 | By Border Patrol

..I thought the same when I read about the importation of this mud powder from a country thats had recent foot and mouth disease. It makes a mockery of people having to clean tramping boots or other outdoor gear when they come into NZ. As for the mud powder being treated, I would have thought it is too much of a risk, that is a lot of faith being put into the importation and treatment process, then the contractor who is supposed to "contain and dispose" of this mud- I would be very unhappy about this if I was a farmer. But don’t worry, it’s all about having "events" and festivals to bring money into the "local economy", but if it doesn’t, don’t worry the ratepayers will make up any losses.

100% Well

Posted on 04-08-2017 13:02 | By rastus

If all the basic requirements for the Rotorua ratepayers have now been fulfilled and the council has a surfeit of funds to spend on some area outside of their core responsibility then they should go to the ratepayers and ask - just another irresponsible council spending other peoples hard earned money for pipe dreams - if there is a commercial advantage then let a commercial operator take the risk - Oh you cannot find one willing - what an obvious shame!

how about ...

Posted on 04-08-2017 12:57 | By Captain Sensible

How about a Holetopia Event where Councils can shovel rate payer money into the hole, and the council who wastes the most, wins.


Posted on 04-08-2017 09:04 | By overit

I hope like hell it does not cause any problems within NZ-virus’s etc. I think its a damn fool of an idea. But hey Councils are very good at that.