‘We know the Q’town community will back us’


It’s funny how things turn out.

Five years ago my new business partner Gemma Peskett and I left working on the Motatapu to explore something new.

This month we signed on the dotted line to own the event.

To say we are excited is an understatement.

But let’s take a step back.

Working in events, the onset of Covid brought fear, anxiety and paralysis for many.

Like other industries we knew there would be casualties even for the bigger players.

While we felt for those canned events and our mates feeling the pinch, the loss of these on our calendar was most acutely felt in our community.

Events, arts and sports sectors were really getting squeezed.

People who had been in the industry for years were made redundant.

Many great people left Queenstown and returned to their New Zealand home towns or back to their home countries because of the uncertainty.

Events were being hibernated or were looking at a grim reality.

On top of that, day-to-day businesses were going under — it was devastating.

Luma, Winter Festival, Autumn Festival, Winter Games NZ are all signature events in our very tight-knit community.

We all rely on the same suppliers, local businesses, and we need to engage with our locals to succeed.

You guys are our backbone.

So when we thought Motatapu may be one of the Covid casualties we started making calls.

In our minds this iconic event, one of NZ’s first off-road events, couldn’t be mothballed.

News headlines internationally had shown even big guys like Ironman may not go unscathed in this global pandemic.

With that in mind, and only a month later, we found ourselves considering if we could possibly not only buy the event, but deliver it in 2021.

Juggling began and one of the first things we considered was changing the date.

We didn’t want to go up against any other event.

Not because of the competition — but because we firmly believe this community will come out in support of whatever is on in their backyard.

Motatapu and Wanaka A&P usually clash.

But we considered many of our supporters may also head over the hill to the biggest show in the South Island.

This way, and by working in collaboration as an industry, we can try to ensure everyone wins.

For me, that winning formula starts with who you surround yourself with — choose good people to work with.

There’s a running joke in our house that I never say ‘no’, and that’s why I’m always busy.

But I like busy, I love busy, especially events.

And Gemma was a natural business partner on this.

Ever since our earlier Motatapu years I’ve known Gem’s work ethic is unquestionable; she has raw passion for sporting events.

Me, I’m the ops and logistics guy where most of my world is suppliers, they’re like family and that’s why I do events, despite the increasing grey hairs I get from them.

And, to deliver this to you guys in 2021, there may be a few more.

But, and most importantly, not only do we back ourselves, but we know this
community will back us.

We will need to pull out all the stops to make this happen, yes it’ll take an understanding girlfriend, understanding mates, and understanding suppliers, but each and every one of them know Gem and me.

We’ve worked with them for many years.

Events carry opportunity and risk, even without Covid, but you do your planning, you have your procedures and you do your best.

It’s no mean feat; we have just 109 days to do this.

Particularly in a Covid year, we don’t want to let anyone down, let alone those closest to us who we work with year round.

And when all is said and done, I can’t wait to see the smiles of those crossing the finish-line.

That’s what we remember years ago, and that’s what we will strive for in 2021.

Craig Gallagher’s an event organiser who, with Gemma Peskett, has just bought the Motatapu race