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French connection strengthened

2 July 2007

French Ambassador to New Zealand Michel Legras and Trade Commissioner Francois Raffray will be guests of this year’s French Fest.

Christchurch City Council Events Development Manager Jo Naish met with Mr Raffray in Wellington last week and confirmed the two would attend Le Grande Soiree, the opening night black tie dinner on Friday, 21 September.

“Getting the Ambassador and Trade Commissioner to French Fest is a real coup.  We are reinforcing New Zealand and particularly Akaroa’s historical links with France and providing opportunities for business and networking at this exclusive event,” Ms Naish says.

At last week’s Akaroa Heritage Festival Society annual meeting Council Events Production Team Manager Mark Hadlow, Technical Co-ordinator Sheena Baines and Ms Naish talked about the French Fest programme and their vision for this to become a major spring event.

The second day of the Festival would feature Le Jour du Marche (market day) and two sessions of Cirque d’Akaroa – a circus which has been created specially for French Fest with Mr Hadlow as ringmaster, aerialists, a fire show, high wire, tumbling, a world trampolining expert, can can and many other components.  Sunday 23 September would feature two further Cirque d’Akaroa shows.

Society President Jim Coubrough urges locals to support the programme by registering now for stalls during the festival’s Jour du Marche (Market Day).

“There are loads of clubs and organisations in Akaroa.  This year’s French Fest gives a lot more scope for these groups to get involved,” Mr Coubrough says.

Mr Hadlow predicted thousands would turn up at the French Fest’s Jour du Marche so they could witness the heritage re-enactment of the French settlers landing in Akaroa, participate in the fun and frivolity of Le Jour Du Marche and take their kids to the circus.

Work put into organising the festival’s various components, marketing, sponsorship, and engaging acts for the Cirque d’Akaroa amounted to about $50,000 worth of Council input already, Mr Hadlow told the meeting.

“We’re very excited about the opportunities to present a high quality event which will grow.  Funding of $30,000 per annum has been approved for three years, plus sponsorship and we see our first year as providing the framework to attract even bigger sponsorship next year.“

Tourism New Zealand had committed to promoting French Fest offshore as one of the top 10 New Zealand activities for spring, and the Council would be supporting a national television campaign to promote French Fest along with other Christchurch and Canterbury spring activities.

“Now what’s needed is for the people of Akaroa to get right behind French Fest and make it the fantastic event which it should be,” Mr Hadlow says.

To register stalls or find out more about French Fest, contact Festival co-ordinator Laura Tomlin at (03) 941 6487 or email  The website will go live on 7 July and event tickets will go on sale on Bastille Day, 14 July. 

For further information contact Mark Hadlow, 027 246 4132


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