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Close to $90k funding for BOP community events

A happy crowd at a live music event. Photos taken prior to Covid restrictions being put in place. Supplied photos.

The NZCT has awarded a grant of $89,952 to the Kawerau District Council towards operational costs for two high profile and popular community events - King of the Mountain Race and Christmas in the Park.

The King of the Mountain Race has historic community significance. Putauaki (Mount Edgecumbe) being so close and simply asking to be climbed, there were many wagers as to who would / could get up and down first – and so the tradition of the annual Mountain Race began.

This was in 1955 and the prize was £50.

Some of the conditions of the original race were: no assistance apart from refreshments to be given to the competitors; entering the race was at one's own risk; a compulsory stretch to be run at the beginning, then find one's own way to the top of the mountain.

Jim Chadwick won the first race in a time of 1 hr 10 mins and it's not too much different today - still the same gruelling 8K to reach the summit, 852 metres above sea level (the record set by Barry Prosser in 1998 of 45 minutes 54 seconds was broken by Shay Williamson in 2016 at a time of 45 minutes 31 seconds).

Kawerau Christmas in the Park is the showcase festive entertainment in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, with up to 10,000 people packing into Prideaux Park for the annual celebration.

It is a family friendly event providing a safe and fun environment in which to enjoy local and national performers entertaining the Kawerau and surrounding communities.

"The NZCT grant is a significant step in meeting a number of community outcomes and without the assurance of funding we simply cannot deliver these activities," says Kawerau District Council’s Acting Economic and Community Development Manager, Lee Barton.

"During Covid, we find ourselves in a challenging space in terms of gatherings and event. All of our funders (Lotto, Lion Foundation, Trust Horizon, and Bay Trust) provide the support to ensure that we can still proceed with these events when it is safe for us to do so.

"NZCT have supported both the King of the Mountain and Christmas in the Park for many years, and evidence of how important these community activities are for the Kawerau community was evident in 2020. Both events provided a level of normality in the community amongst a year of uncertainty and change due to Covid.

"The community felt connected again and the two events are significant economic enablers with suppliers community organisations benefitting financially. The hope now is that we will see these community activities provide that same stability and reconnection again in 2021, because somehow we certainly need to provide some light at the end of the tunnel."

The Council is committed to improving the lifestyle of the Kawerau community and Long Term Plan and Event Management is part of our commitment to providing that illumination.

A crucial part of the planning and delivery for Council-owned events involves create opportunity pathways for young people, volunteer organisations, and the wider community as a whole.

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