In Focus

New Zealand Festival continues to deliver dividends for Capital

Wednesday May 25, 2016

The New Zealand Festival generated an economic impact in excess of $100 million for the capital in early 2016.


New Zealand Festival Executive Chair Kerry Prendergast says the Festival “created a bumper month” for Wellington, hosting both the biennial international arts Festival and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in a four week period (18 February – 20 March).


“With total 180,000 tickets sold for just four weeks of New Zealand Festival activity across February and March 2016, the sense of buzz and buoyancy everyone felt around Wellington is now well supported by the latest Economic Impact figures from BERL. Estimated to be around $105* million, the total economic impact of New Zealand Festival activity for Wellington across February and March 2016 is impressive”, Prendergast said.


Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency Chief Executive, Chris Whelan, said there was no doubt the Festival had made a positive contribution to the regional economy in a number of ways.
“The New Zealand Festival and Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo brought well over 100,000 people to Wellington, contributing to a record quarter for commercial guest nights in the region (January – March). This provided a significant boost not only to accommodation providers, but also to the hospitality, retail, transport and entertainment sectors. These events also contribute to Wellington’s culture, vibrancy and quality of life, helping us attract and retain the kind of smart, innovative, talented people who will power Wellington’s future growth.”


New Zealand Festival’s Executive Director Sue Paterson said, “with 95,000 tickets sold to Festival shows, and a whopping 84,500 tickets for the four night run of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo at Westpac Stadium, the Festival produced remarkable results this year”.


A Nielsen Festival Audience Survey also confirmed the New Zealand Festival continues to be loved by audiences – with 91% of respondents confirming they had either a 'good' or 'very good' opinion of the Festival, up from 87% in 2014. The iconic Pina Bausch Tanztheater Wuppertal dance double-bill and the Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis’ week-long residency were both particularly big hits with audiences in 2016.


The 2016 Festival programme was slightly smaller than 2014, resulting in around 95,000 ticket sales compared to the 116,000 in 2014, and the Festival also programmed more free events in celebration its 30th year, with the Contact Festival Playground and free performances such as Sila and the opening night mass dance off, Le Grand Continental, partnered by Kiwibank. This resulted in a slight increase in total attendance from 266,000 to around 300,000.


Executive Director Sue Paterson also announces today that she will leave the Festival later this year. Sue has enjoyed seven successful years leading the organisation and was instrumental in securing the Tattoo for Wellington in 2016. “It’s pleasing to look back at what we have achieved for our audiences and for our city since the Festival began in 1986. I’d like to acknowledge the input of our funders, sponsors, patrons, Culture Club supporters, audiences and our staff and crew – their support and passion ensures the Festival’s ongoing success. Here’s to the next 30 years!” Sue said.


Mayor Celia Wade-Brown added, “On behalf of Wellington ratepayers, Council is the largest funder of the New Zealand Festival and also made a significant contribution to bringing the Tattoo to the Stadium. The Tattoo and the 2016 Festival enlivened our Creative Capital and I pay tribute to all the trustees, staff and performers.”


Since it started, the biennial New Zealand Festival has sold around two million tickets and drawn a total audience of five million people. The next New Zealand Festival will be held 23 February – 18 March 2018.


[*New Zealand Festival generated around $55 million projected total economic impact in Wellington City with approximately 48,000 out of town visitors. The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo generated around $50 million projected total economic impact in Wellington City with 72,000 unique out of town visitors]