Preparations For The Millennium Celebrations

  • Murray McCully
Sport Fitness and Leisure

Preparations for the Millennium celebrations move into top gear this year, following the recent allocation of more than two million dollars for Dawn 2000 events and a range of commemorative special projects.

Overseeing the events on an operational day-to-day basis will be the newly appointed Manager of the New Zealand Millennium Office, Sharon van Gulik. Her role, and that of her staff, is to service the Towards 2000 Taskforce which initiates and coordinates projects celebrating the First to the Future brand. Last year the Government asked the Taskforce to facilitate the most eye-catching celebrations programme it could come up with. The result was funding approval for eight projects deemed to be of national significance.

The Taskforce has set as its main priority the creation of Dawn events which not only can be enjoyed by all New Zealanders but also will showcase this country, as First to the Future, to an international audience. It appointed TV3 as Millennium host broadcaster after the channel devised a Millennium Dawn broadcasting proposal that would highlight New Zealand's first light uniqueness to a potential global audience of more than a billion people.

TV3 envisages live coverage of the key sunrise sites at Mount Hakepa, the Chatham Islands, Mount Hikurangi and Gisborne city. There will also be imput into the broadcast from other centres to ensure as many New Zealanders as possible can celebrate by either being actively involved or viewing at home. International coverage of New Zealand's celebrations has been secured by TV3 joining the 2000 Today consortium of broadcasters from 50 nations formed by the BBC in Britain and by WGBH in the United States. This will provide a major international platform on which New Zealand's most attractive features can be showcased from our vantage point as the first inhabited land to see the sun rise in the year 2000. As a result, New Zealand and our First to the Future brand will be strongly represented during the Millennium celebrations in our major trade and tourism markets in Australia, the United States, Japan and Britain. The Towards 2000 Taskforce is committing up to four million dollars to ensure that TV audiences at home and abroad can share not only the experience of the key Dawn events, but also a broader programme of projects and activities to mark the Millennium year. As the Government has often emphasised, the point of taxpayer funding going towards these Millennium major events is to take advantage of the international profile we will gain by being "first to the future", defending the America's Cup, and being handily positioned to the Sydney 2000 Olympics. We expect the flow-on benefits from increased tourism and trade to continue well beyond the turn of the century and Millennium.

Taskforce funding from the first of four funding rounds has been set aside for three Dawn 2000 events; these will be located on the Chatham Islands ($400,000), Mt Hikurangi ($400,000) and in Gisborne district ($1M). The Taskforce has also agreed to allocate $250,000 towards Sci Tec 2000, an interactive and touring science exhibition that is part of Canterbury's Turning Point 2000. The Wellington Army Association is receiving $100,000 towards its Onward 2000: Last Post, First Light range of projects and events involving war veterans, their families and communities as well as the Maori Battalion, during the Millennium period. Auckland-based Te Whanau o Waipareira Trust's event Te Ngaru Matua: The Ancient Wave has been allocated $100,000. This series of cultural events featuring traditional voyaging will include the Pacific nations' equivalent of the America's Cup: the Oceanic Waka Challenge. The world's first marathon in the new Millennium, the First to the Future Millennium marathon in Hamilton is receiving $50,000 funding support, and a grant of $25,000 has been made to Te Iwi Moriori Trust Board towards commissioning an artwork to mark their Covenant of Peace in the Chatham Islands.

The Lottery General Millennium subcommittee will be the main source of future funding for most official Millennium celebrations. Funding criteria details are available from the NZ Millennium Office or from the Lottery Grants Board. But individuals and groups seeking funding can get a feel for what the subcommittee will approve by the outcome of the first funding round last year.

For example, a $25,000 grant was made to the Otaki-based Raukawa Marae Trustees for celebrations to mark the end of their 25 year tribal planning experiment Whakatupuranga Rua Mano or Generation 2000 and to begin work on the next phase of the development plan. Education and upskilling of young people has been the focus of this initiative and the subcommittee felt it was important not only to help with the celebration of 25 years of achievement but also to lay the foundation for continuing the work into the new Millennium. Part of the grant will go toward a planning document which takes the project beyond the year 2000.

And two Queenstown Lakes District Council initiatives each attracted $10,000 grants. The council plans to build a 2000 step pathway from central Queenstown leading up Queenstown Hill, along with a 2000 step hopscotch path on the Wanaka Waterfront. Each step of the hopscotch will represent one year of the past two Millennia, with 500 brass plaques indicating important historical events and achievements.

The Lottery General Millennium Subcommittee is keen to receive further applications for projects and events which encourage New Zealanders and their communities to mark the advent of the new Millennium. The Subcommittee has a potential funding budget of $10 million for this purpose but it doesn't want organisations just to repackage their usual annual events. The funding body is looking for groups to come up with truly innovative and exciting projects which mark the new Millennium. The Lottery General Millennium Subcommittee and the Towards 2000 Taskforce have three further funding rounds closing 15 January 1999, 30 April 1999 and 30 April 2000. While the majority of the Taskforce funds have now been committed to securing priority Dawn 2000 events and broadcasting, community groups are urged to apply for the significant funds still available from the Lottery General Millennium Subcommittee