An ambitious plan to hold a 2-day carnival at Orewa Beach this summer that includes spectacular air displays and races, powerboat races, a parachute drop, jetski and land yacht races has been put before Auckland Council and the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board for approval.
At last month’s local board meeting, Ken Ogilvie presented his ideas for the Orewa Beach Carnival, which includes air races similar to those held internationally by Red Bull in which high performance aerobatic planes navigate a series of inflatable pylons anchored offshore at high speeds. If the event goes ahead, it will be the first time that air races of this type have been held in New Zealand. The proposal also includes Warbirds and Air Force flying displays, classic and vintage cars and an outdoor concert finale.
Mr Ogilvie told the members that while Red Bull is not interested in holding such an event in New Zealand, the organisation that is proposing the carnival considers Orewa the ideal location after scoping the area for things such as parking and traffic, and surveying a number of businesses in Orewa and on the North Shore.
He says that the pilots and aircraft owners who would take part in the Orewa event are from a number of different countries with an association in the EU. “A commitment has already been entered into by that association,” he says. “These pilots and aircraft tour the world and participate in such events as the famous Reno Air Races.”
Letters of support for the proposed event include one from Rodney MP Mark Mitchell. Business association Destination Orewa Beach also supports the event, provided it can tick all the Council’s boxes.
Operations manager, Hellen Wilkins, says Destination Orewa has discussed with the organiser that, in its proposed format, the event is too big for Orewa’s infrastructure to manage and could have a negative impact due to congestion and beach closure.
“If the event can be scaled down, it will be a great addition to the event calendar,” Mrs Wilkins says.
Ticket prices on the carnival’s website range from $65 per person for general admission to $245 per person for Gold Pass Grandstand tickets.
Mr Ogilvie is in the process of discussing the proposal with Council staff with a view to making a resource consent application.
The event is proposed to take place next March 7 and 8, with a third day proposed for practice. Mr Ogilvie told the local board that because there are aircraft and watercraft races involved, health and safety requirements mean that the ticketed event would need exclusive use of the beach – something member Caitlin Watson referred to as “privatisation of the beach”.
Local board chair Julia Parfitt said that the proposal was likely to face significant consent hurdles because of this suggested closure of the beach over three days, and also because the event would take place in a coastal marine area.
“To date we have never approved an event that sought exclusive use of the reserve and beach, cutting off all access to the public for three days, as is suggested here,” Mrs Parfitt said.
The event’s website states that the OBC Organisation behind the carnival is an e-commerce business with a ‘virtual office’ in downtown Auckland and staff in a ‘global village’.
Mr Ogilvie told Hibiscus Matters that this organisation is a group of volunteers, including himself, which has been tasked with carrying out a feasibility study over the last three years. “Our role will shortly be concluded and we will stand down, myself included, and hand over the baton to the professionals,” Mr Ogilvie says.
He says “a major event promoter/organiser” who has had significant international experience will host this event. He says it has been funded by a number of overseas investors to date, and that other local New Zealand sources will be reviewed in due course.
“We have had tremendous support to date for this Air Race event to finally be hosted in New Zealand and Orewa Beach is perhaps the ideal locality,” Mr Ogilvie says.
“Following the meeting with the local board, further discussion, revision and clarification on safety restrictions and the like, which in turn governs the restricted area of operations required, will be undertaken shortly,” Mr Ogilvie says. “We have asked the local board for the opportunity to re-present our proposal and to re-consider the matters that were raised which were of concern.”