By Ian Carson
In 2012, the Ōtaki Promotions Group was formed with a vision that was true to its name.
Its purpose, defined in its constitution, is to “promote Ōtaki and its environ as vibrant and attractive to locals, visitors and businesses”, and to “undertake or support activities necessary or helpful to the above purpose”.
With that in mind, the OPG has been one of the most successful local organisations in terms of promoting a positive profile of Ōtaki. Chief among its activities is the now world-famous kite festival, held annually on Ōtaki Beach.
The festival attracts thousands of people every year, with estimates in February 2019 being 22,000.
Of course, not all of these people are visitors, but that doesn’t mean the benefits of the festival are diminished. In fact, the OPG is just as happy to see locals attending as it is to have visitors from throughout the country, and from around the world.
As a community event, the kite festival provides opportunities for local groups to fundraise at stalls and to tell people about what they do. A koha is often paid to groups who volunteer their time as wardens or with rubbish recycling.
Local musicians get to play on stage in front of a big crowd, and friends and whānau meet up because it’s just that kind of event.
In terms of promotion to the outside world, the kite festival showcases Ōtaki’s natural beauty – a pristine beach with rivers at both ends and Kāpiti Island as a backdrop. No wonder visitors love it.
Visitors also have to arrive through the township to get the beach. Many have never previously experienced what Ōtaki has to offer, having always thought the highway shops are what Ōtaki is all about. Of course, they shop while they’re at the festival, buying petrol, grocery items, coffee and food. It all helps the local economy.
But the OPG is not just about the kite festival. It organises the successful Community Expo in September every year, and holds bi-monthly network meetings for local businesses. It also offers assistance for other organisations to run events.
It advocates on behalf of Ōtaki and its businesses and continues to look for opportunities to promote the town through its network of supporters.