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Local board coughs up another $7k for Christmas event

Flagstaff Team

Milford’s popular Christmas by the Lake event has won $7000 in extra funding from the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board, ensuring it can continue.

The community concert – involving a 200-strong choir drawn from local schools and the Auckland Symphony Orchestra – is staged in front of an audience of picnickers under fireworks at Sylvan Reserve on the shores of Lake Pupuke.

The board had already pledged $10,000 to help Seven Events Ltd stage the evening on Saturday, 28 November, but at its meeting last week was asked for more to help it avoid running at a loss.

“It’s a bright spot in a tough year,” said member Ruth Jackson. Toni van Tonder added, “We do need some Christmas cheer”, while Jan O’Connor described it as a “marvellous” show.

Board members urged a previous backer, the Milford Business Association, to look at contributing a few thousand dollars to an event that draws 25,000 people to the area.

Association manager Murray Hill said he would speak with his members. He attended the meeting to talk about the unique value of the event to the community, suggesting a $9000 contribution would ensure its success this year.

A funding shortfall saw the annual event cancelled in 2019.

This year, despite early commitments by sponsors, the challenges of Covid-19 had led to some withdrawing later.

Organiser Peter Allen wrote to the board saying a change in approach from being a free ticketed event had been considered, but even with moderately priced tickets more sponsors had indicated they would pull out, meaning the free status quo was a better option.

But this meant his company faced a shortfall that he was still working to bridge, hence the request for extra help of $5000 to $10,000.

During debate on lifting this year’s amount from the already committed $10,000, board chair Aidan Bennett noted that in previous years the board had donated $15,000.

He noted, however, that the board and Auckland Council faced their own financial pressures.

Deputy chair George Wood suggested an extra $2500 would be appropriate assistance, and O’Connor chimed in with “$3000”.

“It’s like a fish market,” Bennett joked.

Trish Deans took a middle path, suggesting $2500, ideally with the business association matching the amount.

In the end, the spirit of Christmas goodwill prevailed, with the board chipping in an extra $7000, for a total of $17,000.

This article originally appeared in the 27 November 2020 edition of the Rangitoto Observer.

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