The future of a controversial Rotorua festival is as clear as mud.

Mudtopia was held for the first time in December, drawing 14,000 people to Rotorua Raceway.

But the festival was dogged by concerns around the cost to ratepayers, an imported mud controversy, and the number of free tickets gifted by the Rotorua Lakes Council.

Some councillors supported the prospect of a second festival but another has said he hopes the council "kicks it to touch".


In response to questions from the Rotorua Daily Post about whether the festival would go ahead again this year, council operations group manager Henry Weston said in a statement that "as is normal practice with events, we are going through a thorough debrief process which involves working with all stakeholders, including funders, and looking at all the options".
Read more:
Mudtopia costs Rotorua council $437,000 with 10,000 free tickets
Mudtopia draws the crowds on day two
"We expect to present a full report to elected members within the next couple of months."

Councillor Peter Bentley described the festival as "silly", and said the council should not be involved in it.

"I certainly hope we kick it to touch.

"There's no way we should be involved or associated with that sort of very, very expensive waste of time.

"It's got a very good place in Korea, and that's where it should stay."

Bentley said the council should focus on infrastructure and core council business, before spending money on "feel-good stuff".

That view wasn't shared by councillor Trevor Maxwell, who believed the council should be supporting events.

He said he enjoyed Mudtopia last year.


"I'm aware that the first event is always the hardest one.

"I'm hoping that we will be able to support it to become one of our iconic events.

"I know that we're getting a report in a month or two. I'm hoping it's going to be a positive report."

Councillor Tania Tapsell said she voted against holding Mudtopia when it was initally pitched.

She said it ended up being a "successful day in terms of families", but said the council would need to take a strategic look at how it was run, if it was to get the green light again.

"We haven't really had a discussion about the future of Mudtopia."


Preliminary financials
• Total revenue $117,000 (concert and mud pass) shortfall of $460,000 (within the $500,000 approved by council)
• Challenges/issues, event timing, proximity to Christmas, oversupply of concerts in the marketplace
• External funding $907,000 – a shortfall against budget of $80,000
• Total cost on revised budget: $1.48m
• $1.06m total revenue – Crown/MBIE, NZCT, sponsorship and grants, event takings
• Total costs for council for Mudtopia festival $437,000
• $110,000 start-up costs including brand development, website development, marketing and creative, equipment
- Source Rotorua Lakes Council