It may not be known to many but Scotland and New Zealand have more in common than stunning scenery, a passion for rugby and the South Island city of Dunedin (the Scottish Gaelic name for Edinburgh).

As part of a memorandum of understanding between the two countries our respective national events bodies – New Zealand Major Events and EventScotland – there is a tacit agreement to share information and experience of mutual benefit.

That spirit of cooperation has occasioned the recent visit of Hannah Keat, NZ Major Events, who is spending some time at EventScotland’s Ocean Drive headquarters.

We catch up with Hannah to ask her what has impressed her so far about her stay in the capital during festival season – and to give our readers an insight into how her own organisation works.

1.) Welcome to Scotland! What’s the purpose of your visit and how long are you here?

Thank you! It is great to be here – and fantastic to see some sunshine (I’m coming from Wellington’s winter in New Zealand). New Zealand Major Events has a Memorandum of Understanding with EventScotland, to share information and experience. As part of the MoU we do staff exchanges every couple of years to strengthen our relationship and undertake specific projects or pieces of research. Part of the work I will be doing while in Scotland includes looking at how EventScotland uses its different funding programmes to achieve different outcomes, Scotland’s Themed Years and business events. I will be here until the end of August.

2.) What is your role in New Zealand? It would be fascinating to gain an insight into how the world of events works in NZ.

I work for New Zealand Major Events, which sits within central government in New Zealand. We work in partnership with the event sector to support New Zealand’s growing reputation as an attractive destination for major events of global significance. We have a number of responsibilities, including investing in major events that generate significant immediate and long-term benefits for New Zealand and align with wider government objectives through leverage and legacy opportunities. Events are usually organised and delivered by the private sector without the need for government involvement. However, in some instances government involvement is required to secure an event through a bidding process. In others, government investment helps generate greater benefits for New Zealand than the event would otherwise achieve.

The benefits usually sought through government investment include:

  • generating a direct economic impact, usually through attracting international visitors to New Zealand,
  • providing a platform to showcase New Zealand to an international audience and enable our key partners to talk to those audiences, for example enabling Tourism New Zealand to embed destination messaging,
  • creating business and trade opportunities,
  • increasing participation in sport, arts and culture,
  • increasing employment opportunities and event sector capability, and
  • contributing to national identity and pride.

The actions required to gain these broader or more enduring benefits often fall outside an event organiser’s focus and role in delivering the event itself. Without deliberate government intervention, the full potential for these benefits may go unrealised. Accelerating and extending these benefits is the main reason government invests in major events.

3.) It would also be interesting to know what you think are the similarities/differences as you perceive them – in terms of how our respective national events bodies operate?

Working with EventScotland over the last week has been a really enjoyable experience. They have a knowledgeable and experienced team that are clearly passionate about the work that they do. One week in – my initial thoughts are that the objectives we are both trying to achieve through our investment in events are quite similar. We both have a focus on driving economic benefits and showcasing our countries to international audiences. There are also a few differences – EventScotland looks after a wider range of programmes than we do, with a number of programmes aimed at national/regional and community outcomes. One of the things I have found really interesting is the Themed Years – where they have put a spotlight on a particular Scottish asset or an area of focus. I am particularly interested in the upcoming Year of Young People and also the very successful Homecoming years that Scotland has hosted in 2009 and 2014.

3.) What particular Scottish events have you gained an understanding of in your time here so far?

I have managed to get out to a range of different events so far, including the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns Golf Links, the World Pipe Band Championships in Glasgow, a Clan Gathering at Rosslyn Chapel and a number of Fringe shows. I’ve also learnt a lot more about some of the interesting and iconic Scottish events held annually, including The Open, the Winter Festivals – including celebrations for St Andrews day, Hogmanay and Burns Night, and events associated with Themed Years. I have found EventScotland’s strategy around golf events particularly interesting, as it is used to both reinforce Scotland’s position as the Home of Golf and showcase Scotland as an incredible golf-tourism destination.

4.) You’re in the capital for the busiest festival month of the year. I guess it’s no coincidence that you decided to visit Scotland with the likes of the Edinburgh Fringe, Edinburgh International Festival and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo all happening in August?

The last week or so living in this beautiful city has been such an astounding experience with all the activity, tourists and excitement going on. Before I came, I don’t think I fully understood the immense scale of the Festivals and the diverse range of activity that goes on in every venue, nook and cranny, open space and closed street throughout the city. It is truly an incredible experience!

5.) What are the principal objectives for New Zealand in terms of attracting and developing Major Events and also supporting the wider industry?

The key objective is to attract, retain, grow and enhance major events that directly contribute to the outcomes sought through our strategy:

The New Zealand Government, through New Zealand Major Events, works in partnership with the event sector to support New Zealand’s growing reputation as an attractive destination for major events of global significance.

 The government invests in major events that generate significant immediate and long-term benefits and align with wider government objectives through leverage and legacy opportunities.

We also have a role in supporting the event sector, which we undertake through our partnership with the New Zealand Events Association. This includes creating resources for a shared Resource Bank, supporting workshops and seminars to share information and expertise with the sector, and supporting annual event conferences and industry awards.

6.) What events have you worked on in New Zealand and most enjoyed?

The 2011 Rugby World Cup is responsible for drawing me into the event sector! I worked alongside the organising committee as part of the Official Accommodation Bank, where we worked with the official stakeholders for the event and the accommodation sector. Being involved in such a significant event, which truly engaged the whole of New Zealand as we welcomed the world to our shores, was an unforgettable experience. Now working on the other side, the events sector never fails to surprise and impress me with its creativity, professionalism and ambition. Two of my favourite events that I currently work with are the New Zealand Men’s Golf Open which takes place annually in Arrowtown, just next to Queenstown, in March; and the World of WearableArt which is on next month in Wellington.

The NZ Open takes place is one of New Zealand’s most stunning locations and showcases New Zealand as a world-class golf-tourism destination. The tournament is played in a Pro-Am format, where it welcomes amateur visitors from around the world to come and play alongside professional golfers and includes a business programme for the international guests to mix business and leisure while they enjoy New Zealand’s hospitality.

The World of WearableArt showcases New Zealand’s creativity and innovation. It is a world-class design competition which culminates in two and a half weeks of live theatrical shows celebrating the wearable art garments in New Zealand’s creative capital, Wellington.

7.) Which single event or events would you most like to see hosted in New Zealand, and why?

Haha – I’m not sure I can tell you what we might be planning! But I am very excited about the 2021 America’s Cup! After watching Emirates Team New Zealand’s outstanding performance in Bermuda earlier this year, it has really ignited the passion New Zealanders have for sailing and New Zealand’s history competing for the Auld Mug.

8.) In Scotland, our national events strategy is called ‘Scotland The Perfect Stage’, capitalising on the diversity of our land, culture, heritage and people. What approach have you taken in New Zealand?

Our vision is that New Zealand is known as a world-class event destination where major events generate economic, social and cultural benefits for New Zealand. To achieve this, we focus on working alongside the event sector to attract, retain, grow and enhance major events in New Zealand, with a focus on generating immediate and long-term benefits for New Zealand and align with wider government objectives through leverage and legacy opportunities.

Over the long-term, the key outcomes being sought through investment in major events is to have a flourishing events sector, vibrant communities and culture, and for events to contribute to a high value economy.

9.) I notice from your website that there is big focus on investment in events, to the tune of $10mNZ annually. How do you measure the success of your funding programme?

Success is measured through a number of tools, including post-event economic evaluations, media and broadcast metrics, and qualitative assessments of wider benefits. Many of our events are also leveraged by a number of government agencies, including, for example, Tourism New Zealand and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. These agencies also have post-event measures which assess the effectiveness of their activity.

10.) What is your favourite event in the world and why?

The Olympics – because of the raw elation of winning and its ability to unite a nation.