The following highlights a number of key achievements from the first six months of the Thermal Explorer Regional Events Fund project.

1. The Administration of the Thermal Explorer Regional Events Fund (REF) is ongoing with the following highlights to date:

  • Developed position description; recruited; and onboarded an Event Secretariat to facilitate the administrative functions related to managing the REF.
  • Developed brand and identity for:
    • Communications
    • Application process – Guideline’s document; online application form.
    • Collateral
  • Webpage content updates:
    • Published high level summary of Regional Investment Plan
    • Ongoing updates including timeline, links to application form, guidelines, and FAQs.
  • Financial management / Legal
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) – the Event Investment Panel agreed to an MOU which documents the understanding between the Panel members

2. As part of our Capability Building initiatives, we are holding a series of workshops. These workshops are a great opportunity to benefit event organisers / organisations within the Thermal Explorer region including those community events which are not eligible to directly receive funding under REF. The first workshop of the series was held at Te Puia, Rotorua on Thursday 25 February 2021.
Planning is now underway for our second workshop to be held in Taupō on Wednesday 25 August 2021 with a focus on Health & Safety / Risk management and Mental Health and Wellbeing.

3. The development of the Contestable Fund application process for REF has been a major focus.

  • Two application periods (February 2021 and February 2022) for events to apply for a maximum of three years funding (one-off grant or diminishing seed funding).
  • Two-staged application process:
    • Step 1: Expression of Interest (EOI) Application – developed comprehensive online application form.
    • Step 2: Shortlisted Applications – presentations to the Panel.
  • Funding Application Guidelines
    • Event funding considerations included priority event themes, events ability to be/become iconic or anchor event and drive significant inter and intra-regional visitation.
    • Eligibility Checklist – what will and will not be funded.
    • Application and Assessment Process including timeline and Evaluation Criteria.
    • Terms and Conditions of Event Funding.

4. Highlights of the Contestable Fund evaluation and awarding process include:

  • EOI opened 9am, Tuesday 2 February 2021 and closed 5pm, Friday 12 March 2021.
  • 82 EOI’s received; funding requested totalled over $16 million.
    • 28 Waikato events
    • 19 Rotorua events
    • 12 Taupō events
    • 7 Ruapehu events
    • 16 events hosted across more than one Thermal Explorer region
  • Estimated total event attendees 827,000; approximately 52% of these being visitors to our region.
  • Half of the applications were for NEW events.
  • Eight panellists evaluated all 82 EOI’s across five evaluation criteria: Visitation; Viability; Management; Regional Fit; and Benefits. The Panel then met and agreed on a shortlist of 22 Events.
  • 22 shortlisted Events were invited to present to the Panel. Presentations and Panel deliberations took place over 3 days.
  • 15 of the 22 shortlisted Events were offered funding – half of these events are new and overall, there is a mixture of event types, target markets and distribution across the four regions; unsuccessful applicants were contacted with constructive feedback provided.
  • Funding Agreements (for the 15 events) are being finalised. The Funded Events will be announced via Media Release, on the Thermal Explorer REF webpage and directly to the 82 applicants.

5. All four regions are in the process of developing their Event Strategies.

  • Hamilton / Waikato – Hamilton & Waikato 2021 to 2025 Regional Business Events Strategy – the future direction of Hamilton & Waikato’s business events sector.
  • Rotorua – Events Strategy and supporting policy framework to support its place brand and destination management plan.
  • Taupō – Taupō Regional Business Events Strategy – to prepare the industry to attract and deliver a compelling business event offering.
  • Ruapehu – Ruapehu Events Strategy – continuing from the Ruapehu Events Gap Analysis, July 2020.