Fiesta of lights pulls people from afar

By Emma Ross Smith

The reputation of the Fiesta of Lights is growing, if the origin of visitors is any guide.

The fairyland that enveloped the Waikoko Gardens over the Christmas period finished on Saturday and organiser Te Rangi Huata said there had been a big increase in visitor numbers.

"Usually the majority of the people who come through are from Hastings," Mr Huata said. "But this year, we've had about 40 per cent from Hastings, 25 per cent from Napier and about a third of people have been out-of-towners."

Although it got off to a rocky start with the failure of a new power generator, the show only improved from then.

Mr Huata said this had been the best year yet, and he attributed the fantastic turnout to great weather and advertising.

"Unison has been great this year, because they paid for our advertising," he said. "We've had flyers and posters, as well as the paper and radio behind us."

Mr Huata and his team worked hard to get the Fiesta up and running, and when able to put up their new displays, such as a kitset Christmas tree sent from New York, the result was fantastic.

During the three weeks of the Fiesta, the staff were dedicated, Mr Huata said. Almost all were volunteers but they returned night after night to help out.

This season's displays included many marine animals, a labyrinth, a meteor shower tree, as well as a nativity scene which was one of the largest in New Zealand.

"We take a lot of the ideas for new displays from kids who come through. If more than two or three people suggest it, we can usually get it or make it for next year."

While last summer was too wet to put up the displays, during the first week of this Fiesta, it was too hot.

Staff members worked late into the night to get the displays ready a week after the date originally set down as the opening night, and all the lights were a hit with the crowds.

Mr Huata stressed the Fiesta would not have been possible without the incredible work of the staff. He is one of the many volunteers, taking time off from his own workplace to organise the event.

The success of this season's Fiesta of Lights will leave people looking forward to next summer, with many new displays planned.

- Hawkes Bay Today

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 29 Apr 2017 18:06:21 Processing Time: 379ms