Christchurch’s home-grown garden festival Grow Ō Tautahi is being significantly scaled back because of coronavirus concerns.
The Grow Ō Tautahi Festival Trust has made the decision to cancel all aspects of the event.
The decision was made on Monday night in response to the Prime Minister’s direction that all events, outdoor or indoor, that would attract more than 500 people should be cancelled.
Grow Ō Tautahi was scheduled to take place at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens for three days, beginning on 20 March.
But the organisers have decided to cancel the opening event and all programme events which were to be held indoors or in marquees – workshops, panel sessions and the garden kitchen demonstrations.
Construction has started on many of the exhibition gardens, outdoor exhibits, the school gardens and the combined community garden and these will continue as planned for now.
The festival organisers made the decision to scale back Grow Ō Tautahi because it is expected the Government will this week move to limit mass gatherings as part of its plan to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Festival Director and Trustee Sandi MacRae says the Trust has decided to take a cautious approach to hosting the Festival and is paying close attention to Government guidelines.
“Given the indication that an announcement this week would give particular attention non-ticketed events, we believe it is very likely that public events like Grow Ō Tautahi would be affected.
“I have also spoken to a number of partners over the last 24 hours who have indicated that, due to official work and travel restrictions, they would be unable to participate in the Festival.
“We are very disappointed for all of our exhibitors, community groups, schools, sponsors, volunteers and supporters who have given so much of their time and energy to the Festival. However, we make this decision based on Government guidelines and with public health uppermost in our minds.’’
Ms MacRae says the trust is meeting to discuss options for the future and ways it might be able to hold some of the intended events at other locations at a more appropriate time.
“We will begin discussions with potential venue and event partners soon to talk about possibilities to hold the programme events at a later date.
“We are also committed to bring Grow Ō Tautahi to the people of Christchurch in 2021. Our planning will continue in coming weeks and months and we’ll be talking to you soon about this,’’ Ms MacRae says.