Mudtopia Festival

Date: 4 August 2017
Media: Rotorua Daily Post
Topic: Mudtopia - mud purchase

Inquiry

In light of the RLC saying Mudtopia would also be funded by ratepayers, as well as government grants, we would like to ask the following questions.

- how much ratepayer money is being used to buy the South Korean mud/dirt? If any.

- what is the overall budget for Mudtopia?

- how much ratepayer money is being budgeted for the festival?

Response

From Acting Group Manager Henry Weston:

When Council approved the Mudtopia festival in late 2015 it agreed to “underwrite” the event up to $500,000, although it is technically not an underwrite because as the event owner Council will carry any financial risk. It’s not possible at this stage to give an exact amount but if the event were to break even, Council’s financial contribution would be about $100,000. The event has previously been projected to break even in each of the first five years. 

The overall event budget for the festival is $1.8m. Expenses associated with the event, including the purchase of the cosmetic mud powder, are paid out of the overall event budget which includes contributions from the council, government, sponsorship and ticket sales.

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Date: 3 August 2017
Media: NewsTalk ZB
Topic: Mudtopia - mud purchase

Inquiry

NewsTalk ZB requested an interview with somone regarding Mudtopia.

Questions

  1. What was the result of the debate today?
  2. What are the risks around importing mud for our environment?
  3. What's been the public's opinion in  Rotorua on this?

Response

Listen to Acting Group Manager Operations Henry Weston's interview HERE

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Date: 3 August 2017
Media: Rotorua Daily Post
Topic: Korean Mud - Media coverage

Inquiry

Questions regarding today's discussion around Mudtopia.

1. In what way was the media coverage of the South Korea mud deal "misleading and incomplete"
2. Why were details of this deal not disclosed to the public at the time?

Response

From Acting Group Manager Operations, Henry Weston:

The matter has been widely publicised by many media. Some reports have only partially used comment and information provided which has in some cases taken it out of context.

There has been no apparent attempt by media outlets to clarify misinformation or misunderstanding on social media and video coverage of a Taxpayer Union delegation featured a reporter laughing throughout his commentary.

Clarification about how the purchase of the Korean mud powder was funded was provided to local reporters, including a Daily Post reporter, the same day as a comment was made in error suggesting it was being funded by the government. Despite this, the misinformation appeared in a subsequent editorial in the Daily Post and has been repeated multiple times on multiple media and social media channels.

Once the event was approved, it was then in the hands of the operational team to deliver it within the budget provided. This is normal practice. The partnership agreement with Boryeong was signed in 2016 and outlined the sharing of intellectual property and support to be provided by Boryeong, in return for purchasing mud powder to be used at the Rotorua festival. Reciprocal arrangements and the purchase of intellectual property is not unusual for major events.

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Date: 2 August 2017
Media: The Sun 
Topic: Korean Mud

Inquiry

I’m just looking for some background to the council’s decision to import $90,000 worth of mud from South Korea for the upcoming Mudtopia festival.

How much mud is being imported and why is it needed for the festival?

I would also like to know what the mayor thinks of the Taxpayers’ Union’s criticism of the importation of mud.

Response

Response from Rotorua Lakes Council Group Manager Operations, Henry Weston:

"Council approved the mud festival, Mudtopia, two years ago.  It was inspired by one of the world's biggest mud events in Boryeong, South Korea.  Mudtopia will leverage Rotorua's geothermal, spa and tourism attributes, showcasing what makes Rotorua unique.  Rotorua Lakes Council has a reciprocal arrangement with the Boryeong festival in South Korea, which is sharing its knowledge and advice.  As part of this partnership, the Rotorua event will have a Boryeong component at Mudtopia, featuring their mud.  Council has agreed to purchase five tonnes of cosmetic-grade South Korean mud powder, which is sourced from a beach, but it will not be used all at once and will not be used in any mud "bath" or arena type activity.  It will be used in a hands-on therapeutic experience and can be used for people's hands, faces and bodies.  The cost of the mud is approximately $90,000 and is part of a reciprocal partnership with Boryeong event organisers.  The cost of importing the mud powder will come out of the overall Rotorua festival budget which includes funding from Council, the government, sponsorship and ticket sales.  The South Korean mud will undergo heat and irradiation treatment in South Korea and will need to meet MPI importation requirements.  Council has been working with MPI for over a year to ensure all importation requirements are met and the importation will be subject to those requirements being met.  Council has also been working with BOP Regional Council to ensure any of its requirements are met. No discharge consent is required.  Mud from the festival will be captured, contained and taken away to be disposed of by a contracted waste management company."

Statement issued earlier in the week from Mayor Steve Chadwick:

"The publicity stunt detracts from what could potentially become a major commercial event for Rotorua.  Council approved the mud festival two years ago and central government, through its Major Events Fund, also decided to invest in an event that is expected to bring tourism benefits and potential trade opportunities.  Part of our reciprocal arrangement with the Boryeong festival in South Korea is having a Boryeong component within the Rotorua event, featuring their mud.  The cost of importing the cosmetic grade mud, which will come in powder form, will come out of the overall festival budget which will also include funding from other sources including sponsorship and ticketing.  The expectation is that the festival becomes self-sufficient over time."

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Date: 31 July 2017
Media: Rotorua Daily Post
Topic: Taxpayers' Union Award

Inquiry

  • What does the RLC think of the award?
  • Is it justified?
  • Was the mayor or CEO present to accept the award?
  • Why was the council (elected officials) not part of the decision making process when it came to the $90k mud spend?
  • Who made the decision to spend the $90k on mud?

Response

Response from Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick -

Today’s publicity stunt  detracts from what could potentially become a major commercial event for Rotorua.

Council approved the mud festival two years ago and central government, through its Major Events Fund, also decided to invest in an event that is expected to bring tourism benefits and potential trade opportunities.

Part of our reciprocal arrangement with the Boryeong festival in South Korea is having a Boryeong component within the Rotorua event, featuring their mud. The cost of importing the cosmetic grade mud, which will come in powder form, will come out of the overall festival budget which will also include funding from other sources including sponsorship and ticketing. The expectation is that the festival becomes self-sufficient over time.

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Date: 31 July 2017
Media: NZ Herald
Topic: Mudtopia Festival - Farmers concerns

Inquiry

NZ Herald received calls from farmers about the biosecurity of imported mud to be used at Rotorua’s mud festival and had the following questions:

  1. What land use discharge consents, if any, have RLC applied for regarding the discharge of the imported mud to land to BOPRC?
  2. If so, and consent has been given, what conditions have been applied?
  3. What import licences or permits have been sought, and, presumably, given to RLC by MPI?
  4. What steps are RLC taking to guarantee that the South Korean mud is free of bio-contaminants, diseases, or any other toxins that may impact upon NZ’s biosecurity? I understand there is a heat treatment of some sort. Does this occur in South Korea? More details would be very helpful.
  5. What is the plan for the mud once used? How will it be disposed of? Any consents for that?

Response

From Rotorua Lakes Council Group Manager Operations, Henry Weston:

The mud powder from South Korea is a relatively small volume of high grade cosmetic product which will be used in a hands-on experience in the Boryeong section of the festival. It will be applied directly to the skin.

No resource consent is required by Bay of Plenty Regional Council – we have been working with the regional council since the festival concept was floated to ensure we meet all requirements, including for disposal of mud which will be removed by experts.

The cosmetic mud powder goes through an extensive treatment process in South Korea which includes heating or irradiation.

Importation of the mud powder will be subject to MPI border clearance and Council has been working with MPI since last year to ensure all biosecurity requirements are met. This will include producing a certificate of treatment.

Further clarification was sought regarding the amount of mud powder to be imported and how mud from the festival would be disposed of. The following information was provided:

The amount being imported is 5 tonnes but it won’t be used all at once/during the one festival or in mud pits or anything like that. Most of the mud needed for the festival is being sourced locally, also in treated powder form. The imported mud will only be used in the Boryeong section of the festival (part of the reciprocal arrangement with Boryeong is that there be a Boryeong component within the Rotorua festival that features their cosmetic mud), people will put it on their hands, faces or bodies (like a cosmetic mask or body paint).

Mud from the festival will be captured, contained and taken away to be disposed of by a contracted waste management company, not going straight into the city’s sewer system.

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Date: 27 July 2017

Rotorua Daily Post and Rotorua Review sought clarification around the biosecurity risk of importing the mud into Rotorua.

Manager of the CE Office Craig Tiriana spoke to both the Rotorua Daily Post and the Rotorua Review, responding to their inquiries about the importation of the mud. He told them that Council and the festival delivery teams have been working with the Ministry of Primary Industries on requirements for bringing the mud powder into New Zealand.

Clarification was also provided regarding the funding source for the mud powder which was to be imported for the festival. A comment made during the council meeting that the cost for the imported mud would come from MBIE's funding for the event was an error. In clarifying, Mr Tiriana said the cost for the mud powder would come from the overall budget for the event, not specifically MBIE. The overal budget includes funding from MBIE, council, ticket sales and sponsorship.

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Date: 27 July 2017

Rotorua Lakes Council's Arts and Culture Manager Stewart Brown was interviewed by:

World TV
RadioLive
NewsHub

Rotorua Lakes Councillor Trevor Maxwell was interviewed by NewsTalk ZB

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Date: 26 July 2017
Media: Rotorua Daily Post
Topic: Mud from Korea

Inquiry

Saw Steve made a deal to export $67,000 worth of mud from Boryeong to New Zealand. Can you guys confirm this. Is it to be used in our mud festival? Why do we need to export mud?

Further questions:

I need confirmation of this agreement she's signed to import $67k worth of mud.

  • Why are we importing mud?
  • Who is paying the $67K?
  • How much mud are we getting for that amount? (in tonnes) - as previous stories have said the festival will require 10 tonnes
  • How do you get the mud past customs?
  • Will the festival make it clear it's Korean mud?
  • What percentage of the mud will be Rotorua mud? - from a quarry
  • How much will this festival cost in total?

Response

Statement from Rotorua Lakes Council’s Major Events Coordinator, Jason Cameron:

Rotorua geothermal mud will be the main attraction at the city’s first Mudtopia event in December and will be predominantly sourced from a licensed local quarry in the form of thermal clay. 

The inaugural two and a half day festival was inspired by the South Korean Boryeong Mud Festival, which is currently being staged and where Rotorua Mudtopia Festival was also promoted. 

In recognition of advice and support from Boryeong organisers, Mudtopia will have a dedicated interactive display for the Boryeong Mud Festival and featuring Boryeong mud which is sourced from the sea coastal areas of Daecheon Peninsula and will provide visitors to Mudtopia with a different type of mud for a hands on experience. 

Rotorua Lakes Council signed a mud powder supply agreement last week with the Boryeong Mud Festival Foundation to purchase five tonnes of the mud powder for use in the opening years for Mudtopia. 

The Boryeong mud powder is valued at approximately $90,000 (NZ Dollars) and acknowledges a commitment to share information and expertise in the development of Mudtopia.  Council major events and contracted festival delivery teams have been working with the Ministry of Primary Industries on border requirements to bring the Boryeong mud power into New Zealand. 

It will undergo stringent tests radiation and heating treatment to ensure it meets the Ministry’s standards.  The festival has received $1.5 million in support from Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Major Events Development Fund over five years for the event as well as support from sponsors and funders.
 
Useful information:
 
• Approximately 84 per cent Rotorua mud solution will be supplied to the event 
• Approximately 16 per cent Boryeong mud power is expected to be supplied to the event

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Page reviewed: 04 Aug 2017 2:41pm