Posted by: rivettingkatetaylor | January 6, 2010

Where’s the Royal Show to go?

Christchurch has apparently lost the Royal New Zealand Show after a dispute over branding rights, according to a Press story I’ve just been reading on the stuff website.

It says: The Royal Agricultural Society of New Zealand, an umbrella organisation for A&P associations, had announced the Canterbury A&P Association would host the Royal Show until 2012. However, in a letter to members on December 23, the society said hosting talks had failed because of “a fundamental difference of opinion”. The dispute was over which organisation controlled and owned the show’s branding, the society said.

I remember being a member of the Hawke’s Bay A&P Society when it had to decide whether or not to keep fighting to host the Royal Show. The death knell was already sounding for cattle and sheep showing at the HB Show way back then (mid 90s) with or without the Royal Show. But the fact was: it just cost too much money for the right to host it when the people and farming community of Hawke’s Bay didn’t recognise its importance. There was no return for that investment.

About 120,000 people attended last year’s Royal Show. The HB Show used to pull 70,000 if the three-day show included a hot, dry Friday anniversary day (commonly known as show day). But the numbers have continued to plummet. The Meat and Wool Cup used to command a huge crowd and it was THE thing to win. Not anymore. There are three or four breeders putting their beasts forward for the love of showing, not for commercial benefit. 

But Canterbury seems to have been able to buck that trend. Is the Society that “owns” the Royal Show getting a wee bit precious? Is it only the success it is because of Canterbury?

Or is Canterbury getting a bit ahead itself? It has the right to host a Royal Show for the society, but it doesn’t own it.

Could one of the other provinces again step up to meet the criteria and requirements that come with hosting a Royal? Probably not. Should the Society have given one province so much power when it granted Canterbury hosting rights for five-year stretches? (It has hosted it since 2006 and had the right, until now, until 2012, I believe).

 The Society does a lot of good work in rural NZ – as a former winner of its Young Achievers award way back in 2000 I have a healthy respect for the people I know who live and breathe its traditions.

Whatever happens with this latest stoush (mm, I know the word I want there but I have no idea how to spell it) the RAS should keep the branding safe. Keep ownership of the identity that is a Royal Show.

How many of you know that the internationally renown Golden Shears competition was started by Young Farmers? Now the Young Farmers section makes up a tiny, tiny portion, if indeed it is still there. It got bigger than the organisation that started it, took a life of its own, and didn’t look back.

Young Farmers almost died in the past 10 years.  Thank goodness it didn’t. But that’s another story.



  1. Forget the royal show & head on down to the Southern Feilddays @ Waimumu this year where a great crowd and a great time is guaranteed. You will be able to catch up with your neighbours and some old freinds possibly even on the committee still

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