This year's AIMS Games in Tauranga are in doubt and the city's once-thriving events and entertainment scene is plagued by cancellations and postponements because of Covid-19.
But there is still confidence that Tauranga can cement its place as New Zealand's main entertainment hub.
Since the alert level 4 lockdown on March 25, events in the city have slumped. The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed people's lives and the canning of mass gatherings, travel restrictions and people's concerns about going back into the public are all part of it.
In Tauranga, the pandemic has forced conferences, exhibitions, shows, sporting events and public events scheduled for April, May and June to shut down. It has also placed doubt around others for later in the year.
Among the events postponed is the Good Vibes Winter Festival that was to feature Kiwi artists L.A.B, Katchafire, Ardijah, Che Fu, General Fiyah, Three Houses Down and Victor Sefo and Hawaii's Kolohe Kai, at Mount Maunganui on August 1.
Organiser Pato Alvarez said new dates for later in the year would soon be announced and bands were "really excited to get back to work and tour".
"We think it is the right thing to do right now," he said.
Another event in doubt is the Anchor AIMS Games, which last year saw 11,500 intermediate-aged athletes from 369 schools from around New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga and Fiji compete in 23 sporting codes over six days.
A report released in December revealed 23,775 people attended AIMS Games last year - 84.5 per cent from outside Tauranga, with the event contributing 74,787 visitor nights to the region and injecting nearly $6.5million into the economy.
AIMS Games tournament director Vicki Semple said a decision about whether the annual sporting event would go ahead in September as planned would be made next week.
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Semple said there were many uncertainties around Covid-19 and where New Zealand would be come September. The wellbeing of the young athletes took priority.
If the decision to cancel the AIMS was made, Semple said it would be the first time it would be unable to go ahead since it's inception in 2004.
"Because of the size and scale of our event, it's impossible to postpone."
"Registrations are due to close on 10 June, we obviously have to make a decision before then."
Tauranga City Council's general manager community services Gareth Wallis said that before the lockdown, more than 450 events were booked across venues such as the Historic Village, Baycourt Community and Arts Centre, public spaces and Trustpower Arena and Stadium, to June 2021, catering from small groups of 10 people to music events for thousands of people.
"Baycourt had a full programme of events booked for the year, across theatre, music, dance, comedy and community events and annually hosts over 250 public performances," Wallis said.
Since it closed on March 17, more than 30 events had been cancelled. Wallis said they had also seen cancellations a the Historic Village and about 70 events at public open spaces.
He said Trustpower Baypark brought more than 350 events a year catering for more than 1.7 million people and despite the hardship the city's events and entertainment sector was facing they remained positive.
"This has had a significant impact on them – being one of the first to be affected, then having to adapt to a new way of operating, and likely one of the last industries to get back to normal."
However, Wallis said Bay Venues Limited's bookings were looking strong for the later months of the year and about 360 event bookings for public open spaces this year.
"The local industry seems optimistic about the future."
"We do think we will see a growing focus on local business and local talent with the absence of international artists able to travel to NZ and we hope the community will continue to get behind them."
Tauranga promoters Mitch Lowe and Pato Alvarez, who run some of the country's biggest festivals such as Mount Maunganui's Bay Dreams and Raglan's Soundsplash, are confident Tauranga can still become New Zealand's entertainment hub post-Covid-19.
"We have always believed this. Each summer it shows and grows," Lowe said.
Alvarez, who also organises New Zealand's biggest reggae festival One Love as Pato Entertainment, announced dates for next year's festival yesterday, being held on Waitangi weekend on February 6 and 7 and the line-up being revealed in coming weeks.
"We are super excited. We have confirmed some really amazing talent for next year," Alvarez said.
"Tough times will go away but people last," he said.
Lowe said there was no doubt Covid-19 had impacted their business but the pair were focused on "making sure summer is a success".
"There was some concerns about the mindset and financial positions of the public, and their desire to purchase tickets to shows, however, we've learned the last couple weeks that people are eager to get out now. Ticket sales are moving again," Lowe said.
"We foresee strict health and safety changes for our major events. Ultimately we are just trying to move forward positively and we'll do what we need to in order to provide New Zealand with great entertainment," Lowe said.