17 Apr 2024

New Zealand A&P Agricultural Show cancelled this year

2:12 pm on 17 April 2024
Christchurch Agriculture Show

File photo from the 2023 New Zealand Agricultural show, this year's show has been cancelled. Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

The New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch will be cancelled this year because organisers say it is not financially viable.

The show has been held annually by the Canterbury A&P Association at the showgrounds in Christchurch each November since 1863.

It was understood there were discussions about the board resigning at the general meeting.

It also followed a period of tumult for the organisation with other media reporting on the departure of staff, including general manager Tracy Ahern.

Ahern did not want to comment when contacted by RNZ.

But general committee president Bryce Murray confirmed Ahern had exited the role and signalled further change was possible.

"From what I understand, there will be a change of governance at the top - just in personnel," he told RNZ.

The organisation's current structure had been in place since about 1990, but it was no longer affordable, Murray said.

"I think there's a need for a board, but I don't think we have got room to have a fully paid board. I think we need a board with an honorarium. I don't want to see a step down in the quality of people we have got on the board, but we have got no room to pay them money - that's what it comes down to."

Livestock judging and competitions to go on

Livestock judging and competitions would still be held this year, without the public crowds, as was the case in 2020 and 2021 during the pandemic.

Association board chair Stewart Mitchell said it was sad news and the show's business model was under review.

Mitchell said 12 months of costs but only three days of revenue was not a good model by anyone's standards.

"The decision to postpone the 2024 show was a very disappointing one to make, but after several challenging years it gives us an opportunity to completely rethink our strategic direction.

"After two Covid years and a recent financial loss in 2023, the association's financial reserves are limited, and with highly variable income streams, we are unable to sustain the risk of another loss in 2024."

They were now focused on consolidating revenue to allow the show to return in 2025, Mitchell said.

Canterbury Agricultural & Pastoral Association general committee president Bryce Murray acknowledged it was sad news.

"While this is frustrating, we promise to be back stronger and better than ever next year."

Christchurch Mayor Phil Mauger said the cancellation of this year's show was very disappointing.

"The November event is popular with both the rural and local community and brings people from around the country to our city. It really is the highlight on Christchurch's event calendar for the year," he said, in a statement.

"However, like so many organisations and businesses around the country, the Canterbury Agricultural & Pastoral Association has faced a number of challenges over the last few years. Two years of Covid and rising costs have certainly made a huge dent in the association's finances.

"We are about to finalise a commercial agreement with the association, and hope to release the details about this within the next few days."

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