ADVOCATE COLUMN 4th WEEK SEPTEMBER 2018
When New Zealand hosted the 2011 Rugby world Cup, NZ Chambers of Commerce were fortunate enough to be a part of the regional coordinating group, with a particular interest in how businesses and community could make sure that they made the most of the opportunity that was being presented to the region. There was much talk about not only what immediate opportunities would be available from Whangarei hosting two games but also what would be left behind after it was all over. In other words what the legacy would be. Some of these, looking back 7 years down the track are very visible. These are things like public amenity and landscape work, urban roading networks, the Northland Event Centre and other visitor related infrastructure. While other things, may not even raise memories of the event but have certainly made Whangarei a better place to live.
There was the sense of pride and the opportunity to participate in a global event that was not available to many other New Zealand towns. The memories it will still evoke in many to whom this may have been their first chance to attend a major sports event or experience the colour and excitement that the visiting fans bought to us. Part of this was also the overseas and domestic exposure the region received that in no small part has helped change the external perception held by many outsiders about our place.
Then there was the really big win from that event and that was the opportunity to build some major internal capability within our region that has allowed us to host other global events since then and into the future. Involvement with both this event and the FIFA under 20 world cup demonstrated to me the high level of capability that the organising parent bodies require from host cities. While not naive enough to think that local investment does not also play a part, if the parent body does not believe the host city has the necessary internal skills and infrastructure then any bid is unlikely to get past first base.
Having the capacity and capability to host global events in a sustainable manner is something any truly liveable city should aspire to. All of which is why it was so encouraging to see the councils recent bid to co-host the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup. While acknowledging these things do not happen without significant ratepayer’s investment, there are so many tangible and intangible ways we can benefit from such an event.