The Ohakune Mardi Gras has been canned after a $77,000 loss last year - an event that included a performance by Max Key.

The festival has been held annually in the town for more than 20 years, introduced to gee up spirits and income after volcanic explosions on Ruapehu in 1995 and 1996 closed the skifields for some time.

Reaction on Facebook has been swift, with many people urging organisers to introduce more local entertainment and acts, and get back to the family friendly event it started out as.

Many others are just gutted, commenting on the special nature of the festival in the ski town and what it did for businesses.


The Mardi Gras is run by the Ohakune Events Charitable Trust and chairman James Foubister said the event had "fluctuated between loss and being cost neutral" for some years.

He said it had evolved over the years from a festival run entirely by volunteers to one which only used volunteers for part of the clean up on the Sunday.

"There are a great deal of compliance costs, there's a lot of police, a lot of security, road user charges etc, putting up a stage so quickly for one event costs a lot."

Last year's Mardi Gras featured Max Key with Dane Rumble as the headline act.

Mr Foubister said he couldn't comment on the choice of entertainment for what turned out to be the final Mardi Gras, or if the line up affected ticket sales.

He said there will be a party in Ohakune though, with local businesses putting on a smaller scale event for the start of the ski season on July 1.

The decision to cancel the June 24 Mardi Gras came as quite a surprise to some people and the event's Facebook page was still posting "Ohakune Mardi Gras 2017 is on the way!" on April 24.

In a press release Mr Foubister it was disappointing to can the event but the trust planned to bring it back at some stage.


"The look and feel will be very much dependant on feedback from our stakeholders, both locally and nationally and as a community, we are excited by the opportunities
that this presents for Mardi Gras."

"Partnerships will be the key to delivering a successful and sustainable event
and the volunteer committee is looking forward to building relationships in the future,
which supports the community's vision.

Mr Foubister said organisers had been looking at the drop in sales at other events, including Wellington World Sevens Leg, Auckland Nines, Big Day Out, Auckland City Limits, and the McLaren Falls Festival, to figure out what people want.

Past acts at Mardi Gras have been Batucada Sound Machine, Strike, Kora, Concord Dawn, The Checks, Midnight Youth, Dane Rumble, Opshop, I Am Giant, Please Please, Peking Duk and Timmy Trumpet.

"The truth is that we have come to a cross road where we simply cannot maintain the cost of bringing this calibre of artist to OMG within the current set up..." a posting on the Ohakune Mardi Gras Facebook page said.

"So we need to take a break to recoup and plan to bring you the event that you expect and want from us... we know that some of you will feel let down however we have and will continue to strive towards bringing you a product that you the fans can experience in the future."

A public meeting will be held in Ohakune to discuss the loss of the festival.

On Facebook many wanted a return to the origins of the Mardi Gras.

"Bring back the family friendly festival is was originally created for. Not for drunken idiots dressed in bare minimum clothing" was one comment.

Another said "I've been with a group of ten the last 3yrs in a row... . Its not so much about the line up or big artists, i come for the atmosphere. Was always a good weekend to get away.. Pretty sad to hear this, but i definitely look forward to OMG returning."

And Amanda Northey said "What a shame. It's about the winter and snow festivities and a reason to celebrate. Hope Organisers can recover and restart soon.

Many people wanted local acts or lesser known musicians playing.

Shaun Millar posted: "I believe that there are plenty local struggling artists who would be happy to perform for a bit of exposure and income. Give the emerging artists a chance. Its all about having a good time and I believe that the success so far has proven that."

Yvette Skogstad-Archer Time said it was "time to showcase up and coming musos.. Time to switch it up, spring is by far the best time to relaunch this puppy, snow is best, days are longer, summer vibes are brewing."