Russell Blackstock

Russell Blackstock is a senior reporter at the Herald on Sunday.

The show will go on

Lee Colvin has booked Suzanne Prentice for a summer concert. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Lee Colvin has booked Suzanne Prentice for a summer concert. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Red-tape roadblocks on way to concert


A first-time concert promoter has been tangled in enough bureaucracy to fill an album of country songs.

Solo mum Lee Colvin gave up her job as a construction company business manager to chase her dream of organising a country music event for 4,000 people in Whangarei.

The Summer Country Fest, planned for Marsden Cove Marina on January 10, has attracted a big-name line-up of stars, including True Legends, The Warratahs and Suzanne Prentice.

Suzanne Prentice. Photo / APN
Suzanne Prentice. Photo / APN

Colvin said a long list of demands by Whangarei District Council to stage the event had already cost her $50,000.

Red tape requirements requested by the council included:

• Canvassing 483 neighbours to get consent for the concert;

• Spending $2,300 on an "unnecessary" noise assessment plan, and

• Producing separate parking and traffic management plans at a combined cost of $6,000.

Colvin also claimed the council would not let her sell tickets through its iSite facility.

"I have used my children's trust fund to make the concert happen and I am having to move out of my rented house and move in with a friend," she said. "If the festival doesn't get off the ground properly, it could end up costing me more than $200,000."

Colvin is confident she can sell enough tickets to cover costs but said she was disappointed with the level of assistance from the council. She has sold only a few dozen of the $85-$200 tickets.

"I have already had to move the venue to a paddock across the road from the marina because the capacity for an on-site big top was suddenly slashed and it has cost me a further $20,000 to hire marquees, generators and more security fencing," she said.

"Every time I thought I had met all the requirements, the council has come up with something else that set me back. They have been no help at all. It is so disappointing. I am putting on an event that will attract a lot of people to the area and be good for local businesses, and no one is interested in helping make it a success. But I won't give up. The show will go ahead, no matter what."

Whangarei District Council venue and events manager John Lynch said staff had gone out of their way to assist Colvin.

"Anyone holding an event of the size and type and in the place she is planning to hold it at must meet the same standard set of requirements," he said. "They are safeguards that ensure the safety of the crowd at the event and the community living around or passing through the area.

"We offered the only system we have of assisting with tickets - through our ticketing office, using one of our three ticketing systems."

He added: "We are sorry to hear Mrs Colvin has found the process unhelpful, as we have worked tirelessly with her across our departments for some time."

- Herald on Sunday

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