Katie Holland is the Rotorua Daily Post deputy editor

Te Matatini leads huge month for Rotorua

It's been a bonanza month for Rotorua, with Te Matatini alone estimated to have brought up to $20 million into the city.

Events and Venues general manager Peter McLeod said the kapa haka festival, attended by more than 40,000 over the four days, had been a "tremendous" event with numerous benefits for Rotorua - both economic and otherwise.

He said surveys were being sent to those who attended and ticket sales analysed to see what percentage of festival attendees were visitors and what percentage locals. From there his team would calculate how much money was spent and on what.

"But based on what we would expect from other events I would be surprised if it's not in the $15 to $20 million range," Mr McLeod said.

"It's ahead of Raggamuffin, it's up there with anything we have obtained in the past."

Mr McLeod said Te Matatini's overwhelming success had also reaffirmed Rotorua as the leading destination in New Zealand for Maori culture.

"That's a selling point for Rotorua and we'll continue to get benefits."

With the Rotorua Bike Festival, Raggamuffin and this week's Australasia IPSC Handgun Championships also bringing thousands into town, Mr McLeod said it had been a "fantastic February" for Rotorua.

"It's probably the biggest single month in the seven years I have been here."

Te Matatini director Monty Morrison said Rotorua had done itself proud as hosts.

"It was a spectacular success, that's the feedback we are getting," he said. "I want to say thank you to the people of Rotorua for the support."

He said crowd numbers were still being tallied, but the Rotorua International Stadium had sold out on Saturday and nearly sold out on Sunday, despite the scorching heat.

"We were expecting 15,000 per day on average and I think we achieved that."

Mr Morrison said more than 300 Te Arawa volunteers came from all over New Zealand and even Australia for the festival, with a total workforce in excess of 1500.

He said organisers had not wanted the festival to disrupt the rest of Rotorua too much.

"We had strategies to minimise the impact we had on the community," he said. "I think we were able to do that."

Accommodation providers were among those delighted with the "disruption", according to Rotorua Association of Motels chairwoman Fiona Suurenbroek.

"It was chaos, it was full on for everyone. Town was at capacity which was good," she said.

Despite motels, backpackers and holiday parks all being full, apart from the odd cancellation, a bed was found for all that needed one, she said.

"A few turned up without bookings, we explored all avenues, we wanted to keep them in Rotorua if we could," she said. "I don't think we had to turn anyone away."

Mrs Suurenbroek said February had been great for motelliers, a much needed boost for some after a quieter than usual January.

Bars and restaurants also reaped the benefits, with many performers and supporters dining outdoors in the balmy weather.

Rotorua Restaurant Association vice-president and Triple 1 Five owner John Knight said from Wednesday last week until Monday night it had been busier than usual with a fantastic atmosphere around Eat Streat.

"Any event is important to all of us. Everybody gets a bit of the pie," he said. "Now we have the pistol shooting and we're benefiting from them during the day and night."

Takeaways and supermarkets were also more crowded than usual. Westend New World owner Brendon Good said with thousands more people in town, there were thousands more mouths to feed.

"We sold lots of hot chickens, sandwiches, fresh products from our bakery - picnic food," he said. "It's really good for us but also great for the whole town, it's good to see Rotorua hosting events."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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