Waikato Cherry Tree Festival Sep 2020
Waikato District Council
We have trespassers to thank for the Waikato Cherry Tree Festival. The desperateness of people to get amongst the cherry blossoms made us want to share this beautiful place with the local community and people. Anne and I (Paul) thought it would be great idea to arrange various multicultural performances and get the community together to celebrate spring. The first year was 2017 and we had a great response from the community. We sold our allowed maximum of 2000 in a week and the people who attended really appreciated the beautiful event.
Knowing how much community love this event, in 2018 we extended the days and hours so that more people could enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms, garden, food and multicultural New Zealand society. It sold out again. 6000 attended, but could have had twice that number.
In 2019, in order that more could share in this popular event, we extended to 10 days. For that we needed resource consent from Waikato District Council. We got traffic and noise engineers reports that said the impact on neighbours was less than minor. We organised buses so that there would be no parking in the area. Nevertheless, council denied us resource consent two days before the festival was to start.
We fell back to our plan B to run under the temporary event provisions as we had in 2017 and 2018, but hours before the start, the council issued an abatement notice. Legal advice was not to run the festival as we would face up to 2 years in jail and a fine of up to $600,000.
So, the 2019 festival was cancelled, which was hard. Our heart was broken by so many stories from people planning to celebrate birthdays such as grandma’s 90th, people travelling across the world for the festival, performers who had created special dress, and so on.
The cancellation left us in a dire financial situation after committing everything we had and more to the event, not to mention 7 months of flat-out work and our reputation was ruined by a series of articles by Stuff that were untrue and paid little heed to the facts.
Through loans from family and friends we refunded all the ticket-holders and suppliers except WDC. We have also lodged a defamation suit against Stuff.
In this difficult year, in which the community is suffering so much from COVID 19 and tourism businesses are in strife, Waikato District Council should be helping the community and not putting every obstacle in our way.
We petition the council to give the Waikato Cherry Tree Festival a 2020-only resource consent to run for 10 days (18-27 Sep) with up to 12,000 attendees, that is, an average of 1,200 per day.
Last year, council did virtually all the work required to now be in a position to grant consent.
We love running this event for the pleasure it gives to so many people, for the way many different cultures come together, proudly presenting their culture and for the intimate moments captured by family, friends and partners. The event has great potential not only for the Waikato, but also for New Zealand. We want as many people as possible to share the joy.
If you agree with the proposal and wish to support Waikato Cherry Tree Festival against the powers that be, please sign the petition and email the council mayor Allan.Sanson@waidc.govt.nz
and chief executive
with your opinion.
Paul Oulton and Anne Cao Contact the author of the petition
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