'Lamb central' serves rare festival for RWC 2011
23 Sep 2010
A dedicated lamb festival, which includes a 'running with the lambs' event through the streets of a small Central Hawke’s Bay town, promises rugby fans a rare treat and some true grassroots action during Rugby World Cup 2011.
The country town of Waipukurau will become ‘Lamb Central’ for the festival which is being organised to woo rugby fans and visitors to Central Hawkes Bay during the world tournament next year.
As well as the family-friendly ‘running with the lambs’ when sheep will race in team colours down the main street of Waipukurau, the festival will also include a 'mutton dressed as lamb' ball and 'paddock to plate' events showcasing the region’s wine and food.
Central Hawke’s Bay District Council is entering a bid for Lotteries Funding of NZ$250,000 for the Lamb Festival, to get visitors to ‘take the long way round’ and tantalise their senses in the region during their time in New Zealand for RWC 2011.
Local Mayor Trish Giddens says the Central Hawke’s Bay community and local businesses decided to field the lamb festival idea because it focused on what the region does best.
"Central Hawke’s Bay means lots of things to many different people, but almost everyone here can relate to traditional sheep farming, our local meat processing plants, shearing, and the wonderful lamb. We are Central Hawke’s Bay Lamb Country," says Mayor Giddens.
The Lamb Festival will enhance the existing Central Hawke’s Bay Festival held at Pukeora Estate - a family run vineyard and home of boutique winery San Hill.
Now a major function venue, Pukeora - which means ‘hill of health’ in Māori - sits in a commanding position on a high hill just south of Waipukurau and has a long history. It was once a sanatorium for WW1 soldiers with respiratory illnesses, a site chosen for its altitude and abundant fresh air.
Lamb Festival events
Five signature events will make up the Lamb Festival:
- ‘Running with the Lambs’ - where sheep are dressed in each team’s favourite colours and are let loose in Waipukurau’s main street. The town will become ‘Lamb Central’ where visitors can indulge in gourmet lamb delicacies and fun family entertainment.
- ‘Tamatea - Rugby, Haka and Hangi’ - a chance to experience local culture with an authentic Maori function at Hawke’s Bay’s historic Te Aute College and Pukehou Marae.
- ‘The Paddock to the Plate’ - country comes to town, all under one roof. Visitors can have a go at docking, shearing and wool spinning throughout the day, culminating in the evening ‘Paddock to Plate’ dining experience.
- The annual Central Hawke’s Bay Festival art extravaganza - a four-day event showcasing world class local artists. A celebrity chef will create a new signature dish with local award winning lamb, while visitors enjoy art, music, food, wine and a "sizzling" atmosphere.
- Central Hawke’s Bay lamb country goes "glam" with a ‘Mutton Dressed as Lamb Ball’ - billed as "all about glitz, glamour, romance and exquisite local food and wine".
Background: Central Hawke’s Bay
Central Hawke’s Bay lies south of Hastings and north of Palmerston North, and is bordered by the Ruahine Ranges to the west. There are several beach townships dotted along the east coast.
State Highway 2 runs through the centre of the district and there are two main towns, Waipukurau and Waipawa. The region has a population of nearly 13,000 and farming is the main industry.
The main trunk railway line from Wellington to Napier also runs through the middle of Central Hawke’s Bay, and Napier is the closest airport - 75km from Waipukurau.
Central Hawkes Bay is home to the settlement of Porangahau which boasts the world's longest place name: Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaunga
horonukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu is the name for Porangahau’s famous hill which has become a popular tourist attraction.
The region also offers good trout fishing, tramping and bush walks in the Ruahine Ranges, history and culture with nine local Tamatea Māori tribal marae and the Central Hawke’s Bay Settlers Museum, several golf-courses, beaches and sea fishing, heritage buildings, gardens, apple-orchards and award-winning wine.
The Central Hawke’s Bay Lamb Festival is one of many events to be staged throughout New Zealand during RWC 2011.
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