10 Jun 2014

Call to share show with Auckland

7:03 am on 10 June 2014

Christchurch City Council is being urged to consider sharing the Ellerslie International Flower Show with Auckland, after pulling the loss-making event for 2015.

After spending millions on the flower show over the past seven years, the council decided not to renew its contract with the organiser, Flower Show Management.

The show moved from Auckland to the Garden City in 2007, costing ratepayers $3 million.

The first shows paid their way, but returns fell in the wake of the Canterbury earthquakes.

This garden designed by engineering firm Beca won the Judges' Supreme Award.

The Ellerslie International Flower Show was bought by Christchurch in 2007. Photo: SUPPLIED

In May this year, a report to the Christchurch City Council revealed that this year's show lost $516,000, while in 2013 it lost over $300,000. Over the course of all four shows since 2009, the cost to ratepayers has been $900,000.

The council said it was working towards making the event financially viable in 2016.

Councillor Tim Scandrett said it was a shame to cancel the 2015 event but rebuilding and repairing the city's infrastructure and dealing with flood-prone houses are matters that must now take priority.

"It's a fantastic show, with 94 percent satisfaction - which is very high for any show - but it did run at a loss."

Sir Bob Parker, who was mayor when Christchurch bought the show in 2007, said rather than uprooting the event altogether, a system where it alternated yearly from Christchurch to Auckland should have been considered.

"There is life after the rebuild. There is life after the earthquakes. If you've got a good asset, albeit one that is underperforming, you try to manage it strategically."

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett said he would welcome the show back to Auckland, but agrees the event could be shared.

Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter said the city needed big events and he hoped a flower show would be held in the future.

The event was second only to Cup and Show Week as a crowd puller, he said. "When we go to the show we meet people from Nelson, Dunedin, other parts of Canterbury. All around New Zealand really."