Bay of Plenty foodie festival wins two national awards


Source: Tourism Bay of Plenty

A Bay of Plenty festival which showcases the region’s foodie scene has earned two titles at the 2023 NZEA New Zealand Event Awards.

The Flavours of Plenty Festival was named Best Lifestyle Event and co-winner of the Best Local Government Event at the New Zealand Events Association (NZEA) Gala Dinner in Ōtautahi Christchurch last Thursday.

The double-win acknowledged the second iteration of the festival, which was held over a 10-day period in March and April. The first Flavours of Plenty Festival had been bravely launched the previous year as the hospitality sector struggled with difficult COVID-related restrictions.

Tourism Bay of Plenty General Manager Oscar Nathan says his team is “elated” with the festival’s two NZEA event award wins.  

“The Flavours of Plenty Festival is a key project for our organisation and these awards exemplify the amazing support that we’ve received from sponsors, suppliers, hospitality venues, and local and out-of-town attendees.

“The festival celebrates our distinctive regional foodie offerings, showcases local produce and talented artisans, and connects hospitality students to potential employers. This is what sets it apart from other New Zealand food festivals,” he says.

“This year’s festival involved 51 event partners and more than 5000 attendees, all of whom were keen to celebrate and savour the unique horticultural provenance of our region and the skills of our best and budding culinary creators.”

Festival Director Rae Baker says she always knew it had the ingredients to become an iconic event, not just for the Coastal Bay of Plenty but for foodie lovers from all over the country and further afield.

“We’re really just at the start of this journey, with two successful annual festivals under our belt. These wins epitomise our goal of seeing the Flavours of Plenty Festival being recognised as a hallmark event for our region – it generates positive vibes within our community, attracts vital visitors, and directly supports so many businesses,” she says.

Flavours of Plenty Chair Stacey Jones leads the grassroots collective that first envisioned the future of the regional festival.

“We wanted to establish the Bay of Plenty as a respected food destination that offers more opportunities for a one-of-a-kind foodie experience than any other region in New Zealand.

“We’ve been working hard to catalyse opportunities and connections within our community to deliver a programme of foodie events that are distinctive and will create further positive long-term impacts,” she says.

The Flavours of Plenty Festival was one of four food-related events that made the NZEA finals after a record number of entries across 18 award categories.

NZEA General Manager Elaine Linnell says the festival’s award nomination stood out because the event not only connects the culinary ecosystem, it also provides opportunities for education and employment and connects producers to plate.

“Collaboration was truly at the core of the festival, with an emphasis on relationship management of the many stakeholders who put on a number of creative events that encouraged collaboration and participation… elevating the Bay’s people, produce, plates, and place to the benefit of the entire region,” Linnell says.

The Flavours of Plenty Festival team is already preparing for next year’s event. The programme and tickets for the 4 – 14 April 2024 event will be released in February.

“We’re very excited to keep building on the momentum that our first two festivals have generated,” says Baker.

“These wins mean the expectations for our 2024 festival will now be even higher, and you can rest assured that we’ll be working hard, with the support from our sponsors, to make it truly special.”