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Motueka Kai Fest project

Although this event is now organised and managed by (separate) Kai Fest Trust, this project was seeded by Vision Motueka following the findings of the Motueka 2030 consultation process, as a high priority initiative for the future of the town. A Motueka harvest festival has been the wish of many people over many years, so we decided to do the work to make sure it happened.

It started out in Spring 2015 with contacts made with a variety of businesses and organisations that have a special interest in local food and events - orchardists, food sustainability, iwi, tourism, retailers etc.

We also drafted some ideas of what the event could include, for early discussion and to get people interested. When we had gathered a sufficient number of people prepared to explore it further, an informal working group began brainstorming ideas.

By the end of the year, we had some money from Nelson EDA to pay for a contractor to gather ideas together for a report into how it could happen. By the end of 2015 we realised that we did not have enough time to run the first event in autumn 2016, so the date of April 9th 2017 was decided as the first running. The venue would be Decks Reserve. Further seed money was obtained to ask the contractor (Kahu Geor) to take the ideas and put them into an event plan. The team took an a little more formality by choosing Petra Stephenson as the volunteer planning coordinator.

The event philosophy was decided: it would be primarily a community celebration, with no overt sponsorship and no entry fee. The second goal was to educate in fun ways the importance of local food and an appreciation of our local climate, water, soil and harvest workers. The third goal, implicitly, was to attract visitors to the area for the day or week and to promote Motueka as a producer of great food to the country and the world.

Since the winter of 2016 the team advanced plans and created a structure which allowed the various groups of activities to be planned in further detail, with schools, businesses, iwi and other community groups enlisted to play their parts. Event planning specialist Terri Everett was contracted in September for seven months to oversee the details of the event.

The inaugural event took place in perfect weather (the only sunny day between two tropical cyclones, Debbie and Cook, which dumped on New Zealand over the period of 10 days) on April 9. With a crowd of over 4000 present and the whole of Decks Reserve taken with stalls and activities, all feedback suggested the event was far more successful than most people had expected. You can read about it and see photos here.

As of May 2017, the event team is being spun off into a separate charitable trust (Kai Fest Trust), which Vision Motueka will continue to support and play a part in for at least the 2018 event.

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