Bee festival organisers stung by funding shortfall

Posted at 11:02am Monday 12 Oct, 2020 | By James Addis editor@localmatters.co.nz

Hundreds of children are participating in bee projects connected with the festival.
Hundreds of children are participating in bee projects connected with the festival.

A failure to secure a grant from the Rodney Local Board for The Big Buzz festival has left organisers annoyed and seeking other sources of cash.

Organiser Isabella Sullivan describes the bee and honey festival, due to be held in Matakana early next year, as the first of its kind in New Zealand and “should have ticked all the boxes” for the Local Board.

In addition to the big event in February, the festival involves about 500 children from local schools engaged in bee-related projects.

Children will have stalls showcasing their work at the festival.

Ms Sullivan says the festival is just what the community needs after the depressing setbacks experienced in 2020 due to Covid. It will feature local bands, local products and bring in lots of people from outside the community, boosting local business.  

“It's really going to put the region on the map in terms of doing something new and environmentally conscious,” Ms Sullivan says.

Among the event's aims is to raise the awareness of bees and their vital role in pollination. Organisers had hoped the Rodney Local Board would chip in $3000 to pay for bands to perform at the event.

However, Board chair Phelan Pirrie says there may be some confusion on the part of festival organisers as the Board has not given out general grants for years and there was no grant they could have applied for from the Board.

“This was explained to them in a letter following their deputation,” he says.

Nevertheless, Mr Pirrie acknowledged that the Board had allocated money to a few targeted events, including Christmas parades, A&P shows and the Kowhai Festival.

Asked what would happen to this money given the cancelling of some of these events due to Covid-19,

Mr Pirrie said if money was returned or not used, the Board would work out what to do with it at that point.

Although the Board says it cannot contribute, ATEED has indicated it will help with The Big Buzz's marketing budget. Ms Sullivan says the festival is still needing additional money for “infrastructure” such as marquees, cones, tables and chairs. She says none of the extra money is needed for wages as all the work is being done by volunteers.

Highlights of the festival will include an enormous beehive for children to play in, cooking with honey workshops, honey tastings and gourmet food trucks.

The Big Buzz will be held at the Matakana Primary School on Sunday, February 14, from 9am to 4pm.

Those wishing to support The Big Buzz can contribute via the event's givealittle page givealittle.co.nz/cause/wwwthebigbuzzfestivaltrust or email bigbuzznz@gmail.com.


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