Business summit features at arts festival


Waikato business people will get the lowdown from Finance Minister Grant Robertson about the landscape for the next four years at a business summit this month.

Business mixes with the arts when the Waikato Business Summit is held for the third year at Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival, on February 27.

With a theme of the future of business in Waikato, Robertson will be followed by ANZ chief economist Sharon Zollner and Te Waka chief executive Michael Bassett-Foss.

The afternoon also features a panel discussing how today’s businesses can succeed tomorrow. The summit is the brainchild of PKF Hamilton partner Bernard Lamusse, in conjunction with Chartered Accountants regional manager Neal McDiarmid.

Lamusse, a regular attender of the arts festival, saw an opportunity to use the “fantastic facility” for a business summit and started phoning around.

McDiarmid was looking for a new home for the regional summit he had been running, and the two men joined forces.

Lamusse approached the Gardens Festival organiser to suggest they provide the venue, lighting and sound, while he and the summit sponsors did the publicity, with all proceeds going to the festival.

“Pretty much everyone puts all of their time up for free and all the ticket sales and the sponsorship money goes to the Gardens Festival. They’ll run it and take the profits.”

That sees the festival’s coffers boosted by about $40,000 a year. About half of that comes from ticket sales, while sponsors PKF Hamilton, ANZ, Chartered Accountants NZ, and Xero contribute $5000 each.

“The idea was to create an environment for business people that took them away from the normal ‘box in a hotel’ for a meeting,” Lamusse said.

Instead summit attendees are hosted in a tent that can take about 200 people, on the Governor’s Lawn.

“We want people to get out of their office, to go and talk to other business people and to hear some ideas that are going to help their business grow in the next year.” 

They draw people from diverse backgrounds, including not-for-profit, government sector and business people.

“It’s part of our social conscience in our firm. We very much are focused on giving back to the community and this is us giving back.”

Tickets are $150 each, which includes afternoon tea, canapés and refreshments with live entertainment from 5pm.

The panel discussion will be chaired by former Air NZ financial controller Greg Sheehan, and its lineup is Good George managing director Darrel Hadley, Momentum CEO Kelvyn Eglinton, young entrepreneur Eliot Jessep and Seed Waikato co-founder Gemma Major.

The summit follows a morning session of the Chartered Accountants ANZ Central North Island Regional Conference.

Ten days of the arts

The Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival runs from February 20 to March 3, featuring more than 50 acts. The Gardens’ 20 spaces make ideal settings for arts events, with theatre, music, dance, circus, comedy and literature all in the spotlight.

2019 includes a return of festival favourites from the Family Fun Day to Opera at Twilight and the Sunset Symphony finale. New highlights this year including headline act Deluxe Deluxe from Australian cabaret stars Strut and Fret, Scottish-based folk duo Jamie McClennan and Emily Smith, and Italian jazz violinist Luca Ciarla.

The Pacific Crystal Palace is also playing host to comedy stars Pax Assadi, Melanie Bracewell, Wilson Dixon and 7 Days stalwart Ben Hurley.

Literature will be represented with Nicky Pellegrino talking about her writing and local literary luminaries Denise Irvine and Venetia Sherson in conversation with Roni Albert discussing Stand By Me, a history of Te Whakaruruhau: Waikato Women’s Refuge.


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