Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Hail to mud, glorious mud

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Nicole Zheng, left, and Sherry Liu, from China at Hell's Gate thermal mud pools. Rotorua's mud will be the focus of a new festival revealed for the city. Photo/file
Nicole Zheng, left, and Sherry Liu, from China at Hell's Gate thermal mud pools. Rotorua's mud will be the focus of a new festival revealed for the city. Photo/file

An international partnership will see Rotorua add a mud festival to its busy events schedule after the signing of an agreement with Boryeong City in South Korea.

Boryeong runs an annual mud festival that attracts more than three million visitors a year and the Rotorua Lakes Council wants to establish a similar event in Rotorua, based on the city's 150-year history of using mud as a therapy.

Rotorua and Boryeong mayors Steve Chadwick and Kim Dong-Il, along with International Festival and Events Association president Professor Gang Hoan Jeong and a director of the Boryeong Mud Festival, will sign a partnership agreement tomorrow.

"When we are looking at what events fit the Rotorua destination and what is missing, then a mud festival proposal is very exciting," Mrs Chadwick said.

"In Rotorua, culture, dirt and steam is what we are about and mud fits our proposition."

A relationship with the Boryeong festival would allow Rotorua organisers to make use of some of the intellectual property around festival management, as well as build both trade and tourism alliances between New Zealand and South Korea, she said.

"This will be a very good cultural exchange and open another tourism market. It's adding diversity into the cultural mix here in Rotorua.

"It's quite delicious, the idea of a mud festival," Mrs Chadwick said.

On a recent visit to China, where she spoke at an international tourism conference, Mrs Chadwick said she learned the gift they wanted from Rotorua was its mud because of its health and wellness properties.

Rotorua Lakes Council major events co-ordinator Jason Cameron said he hoped to confirm when the Rotorua mud festival would take place and other funding details at the ceremony.

Wai Ora Group general manager Terry Hammond said his organisation, which includes Hell's Gate at Tikitere, would fully support a mud festival.

"We know the mud festival is so successful in Korea and if they can replicate some of that enthusiasm for it here, it will be great," he said.

"With Hell's Gate in mind, we would have to back it, but it's not just about us, it would be great for the destination.

"It would do wonders for our profile, especially in Korea, it's something that would fit well with Rotorua.

"Some of the healing qualities of our mud, which have been known for generations, are extraordinary.

"It's a great opportunity on so many angles."

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