The Waikato region's largest event the annual Fieldays at Mystery Creek in June is being postponed, it was announced today.
It joins other local events , including Balloons over Waikato have been cancelled as mass gathering events across the country are deferred or cancelled because of Covid-19 concerns.
In Hamilton, Gourmet in the Gardens, the Waikato Show, and Wintec graduations that have either been cancelled or suspended for the foreseeable future as the Government looks to stop the spread of Covid-19, by recommending organisations defer mass gatherings.
This morning, the New Zealand National Fieldays Society released a statement saying "following the recent announcement from the Prime Minister, the New Zealand National Fieldays Society Inc. has regretfully postponed the Fieldays event scheduled for 10-13 June 2020. We are currently working through the specifics of what this entails, and will look to continually update stakeholders. We thank you for your understanding and patience while we navigate this complicated situation."
Balloons over Waikato, said earlier: "As per the Government recommendations in regards to mass gatherings, Balloons over Waikato have made the decision to cancel public attendance at Innes Common for morning flying, The University of Waikato for Nightglow, and all other sub events associated with the Festival."
"The event falls into the 'mass gathering' criteria as a free event that is non ticketed with attendees numbering over 1000 and therefore feel it is the right thing to do for our community.
"We are extremely disappointed not to be able to deliver this amazing community event to the City and the region, but strongly support all measures put in place by the Ministry of Health and government to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on New Zealand."
The good news for Balloons spectators are the balloons are still flying in the Waikato when the weather is permittable.
"Our pilots are here, so we will be taking to the skies every morning from Wednesday to Saturday. Instead of coming to Innes Common, enjoy our Carnival of Colour out your window wherever you may be over the week."
The majority of the Waikato Show, scheduled for March 27 to 29 at Claudelands Event Centre is another local event that has been cancelled.
General Manager of Showing Waikato, which organises the event, Cara Ferris, said significant parts of the Waikato Show can continue as they are online or by competition entry.
"We hope that this opportunity to participate and stay connected will be a welcome activity for those affected or in self-isolation over the coming weeks," a statement from Showing Waikato said.
The annual family festival and expo combination would have normally attracted about 18,000 people over three days.
"We fully support the measures taken to 'flatten the curve' directed by the NZ Government and we are doing our part to prioritise the health and wellbeing of all," the statement said.
Showing Waikato would now focus on making the Waikato A&P Show scheduled for October 30,31 and November 1 2020, a "safe and fabulous celebration".
It would also look at planning and reforming next year's Waikato Show, scheduled for April 9,10 and 11 2021.
The cancellations were made after Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate said event organisers in Hamilton should take advice from health officials before proceeding with their events.
While council has no events of its own planned in the next 10 days, it is keeping a "watching brief" on the issue and would take the advice of health officials. Private event organisers should do the same, she said.
"Council cannot force independent event organisers or sporting organisations to cancel events. We would expect all event organisers in the city to do exactly what we're doing; listen and take official government advice. I'm sure everyone will be very sensible."
Mayor Southgate said Hamilton City Council remained focused on maintaining services in the city and looking after the health and wellbeing of staff and contractors. She was very comfortable with the city's preparedness and said the city would continue to follow Ministry of Health guidelines.
"My advice is the same as that being offered by experts. Stay home if you're unwell, cover coughs and sneezes and more importantly, wash your hands thoroughly and often."