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Published: 2003-07-17 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is to take over co-ordination of the Region’s annual Festival of the Environment.

The community-based event, which has been co-ordinated by Hamilton City Council for the past five years, has continued to evolve and participation rates have increased. The Festival Organising Committee now wants to concentrate on increasing participation from districts within the Waikato Region and has asked Environment Waikato to take over co-ordination.

This week’s Environment Committee meeting was told the Festival was an opportunity to “switch people on” to the Region’s environment, giving them the chance to physically explore the Region, challenging them to think about environmental issues and helping them to discover what they could do to live a sustainable lifestyle.

Events Organiser Kim MacRae Jonson said that the Festival was also an excellent opportunity for community groups to showcase their projects. Each participating district council has been making an annual cash donation of $1500 toward the organisation of the Festival, Hamilton City Council $10,000 a year and Environment Waikato $5000, plus more in-kind funding. Grants were also sought.

Environment Waikato would take responsibility for compiling registrations, a Festival Directory, advertising, the web site and providing advice. About 7000 people participated in more than 60 activities during this year’s event but Environment Waikato could ensure the Festival was more regionally focused.

Councillors were supportive of the move as an opportunity to promote the Festival and align it with the Council’s core activities.

Cr Jenni Vernon said the majority of the Council’s ratepayers lived in urban areas and Festival was an opportunity to raise awareness of environmental issues with them. Festival events were an opportunity to take people out of the town into the rural areas and show them environmental issues on the ground.