A better Auckland flower show is promised after Christchurch City Council won the right to host the Ellerslie Flower Show from next year.
After 14 years in Auckland, the owners of the Ellerslie show announced yesterday that they had sold the event to Christchurch for an undisclosed sum.
But no sooner was Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker saying how good Ellerslie would be for the "Garden City" than Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee was promising a "better" replacement.
"All the facilities, the infrastructure, the know-how, the resources in the gardening and landscaping sectors and the audience are in Auckland.
"We wish them good luck taking Ellerslie down to Christchurch ... but we will get our own flower show. We recognise the need and demand for it in Auckland," Mr Lee said.
He took a swipe at the show's owners, who invited Auckland, Hamilton and Christchurch councils to bid for the event. "We don't have to pay the odds to these sort of people who are not committed to Auckland. We will get a garden show that is committed to Auckland."
The show, which packed up for the last time in Auckland on Sunday after attracting 65,000 people, has been worth about $14 million a year to the regional economy.
Mr Lee was hopeful an "Auckland Garden Show" would be ready next year at the Botanic Gardens in Manurewa - the same site as the Ellerslie Flower Show.
The regional council, which owns the Botanic Gardens, would work with Manukau and Auckland City councils to organise the new show.
Manukau Mayor Len Brown was disappointed at the loss of the show but keen to make the best use of the Botanic Gardens site.
"With the region's large population and good transport links there is huge potential," Mr Brown said.
"With more than 50 per cent of visitors to the show coming from the Auckland region there is obviously strong demand for something to be held there."
Manukau has sponsored the show for the past 10 years, including an annual $90,000 contribution and use of the Manukau Sports Bowl for parking.
Asked about Auckland's plans for an even bigger, better show, Mr Parker said: "I think we would always expect that if there is a vacuum in Auckland, something would move to fill that.
"But we have the Ellerslie brand, and that's a proven brand. Any other event that comes in will have to start from the ground."
Ellerslie Flower Show co-owner David Mee said Christchurch's Garden City image was a big factor and he believed the city would truly embrace the event.
The show would be held in Hagley Park, in the centre of Christchurch. The timing was still to be determined.