Tuesday, 26 May 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

New face behind two of Whitianga's biggest events

There’s a new face behind two of Whitianga’s most high-profile events that will be building on past success while looking to the future.

Nick Reader has been working in event management for 18 years and will now head up the teams of volunteers behind the Whitianga Half Marathon and the iconic Whitianga Scallop Festival. Having moved to Whitianga in December 2018 with wife, Debbie, and daughters, Sienna and Elise, Nick is excited about the challenges ahead. “We’re just loving it here in Whitianga,” he says. “As a family, we have settled in well and I feel very lucky to now be able to work with the community on what are already two highly successful events.

“Ultimately the reason we do these sorts of events is to bring people into Whitianga, so the customer experience must be the focus. For me, it will be about how we can improve that experience going forward to make these events even more attractive. When you have a successful model to work with - as in the case of both the Whitianga Half Marathon and the Scallop Festival - you are not looking to do anything radical. You tend to aim for around 10 or 20 per cent change just to keep things fresh and moving forward.”

Working alongside the community is also a very important part of how Nick operates. “While there are certainly benefits, these events do also have an impact on people locally. The community generally has been very supportive of these two events, but I want to continue to make sure that as many people as possible can experience the benefits and that any negative impacts are minimised.”

Through his company, Element Events, Nick also runs the Ruapehu Express and Ring of Fire - both popular multi-distance running events - and has worked on numerous community events when he was previously employed by Taupo District Council. He believes Whitianga and the wider Mercury Bay offers huge potential in terms of staging other unique events based on our natural surroundings and the things people here are passionate about.

“It’s important that events fit in with the identity of a place,” says Nick. “We can see with things like the Leadfood Festival and the K2 for example, how they have been driven by local people who are genuinely passionate and they can grow and evolve in quite an organic way. If you look at what else people love about living here, you immediately think of the sea and all that entails - sailing, fishing, diving, waka ama - there is a lot we can explore.”

However, for now, Nick’s focus is firmly on the two major local projects to be delivered this year. “This will be the third Whitianga Half Marathon,” he says. “The first year there were 1,000 entries, last year it was 1,100, so it has already been a fantastic success. One thing I’ll be looking at this year is working with the schools and other community groups to encourage more young people to participate. It might be that they do the half marathon over a number of stages at school and do their last five kilometres on the day of the event so they still get their medal. We want our young people to be fit and healthy, so if events like the Whitianga Half Marathon can support that, then that would be fantastic. It is important to me that the events I’m involved with have as much social benefit as possible for the communities that host them.”

Environmental responsibility is also a priority for Nick as he works through the various planning stages. “Thames-Coromandel District Council have been facilitating workshops for event organisers looking at ways to reduce the environmental impact and that is something I’m definitely looking to explore further, I think there is a lot we can do on that front,” he says.

The Whitianga Half Marathon, sponsored by AON Insurance Brokers, takes place on Saturday, 23 May. A date has yet to be confirmed for this year’s Whitianga Scallop Festival.

Pictured: Nick Reader, the new event manager for the Whitianga Half Marathon and the Whitianga Scallop Festival.

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