The crucial role of events in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s ongoing recovery was highlighted in the past four months with sell out attendances across a range of events.

Ten events between July and October, which were supported by Tātaki Auckland Unlimited on behalf of Auckland Council, either sold out or – in two instances – attracted a world record crowd.

From a combined Tātaki Auckland Unlimited investment of $4.8 million, these events:

  • Attracted a total live audience of 517,000
  • Generated an estimated 167,000 visitor nights
  • Injected $18.7 million into the region’s economy

Chris Simpson, Head of Major Events at Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, says these numbers send a strong signal about Aucklanders’ and visitors’ appetite for events across the region.

“Events lift people’s spirits and wellbeing, and that brings significant social benefits. Families are out and about, friends get together to enjoy a gig and communities get involved. What’s more, you cannot put a value on the global exposure and profile this gives our region. For example, next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup is expected to attract an international audience of two billion.”

“The financial benefits also extend to a wide range of businesses including accommodation providers, the hospitality sector, transport operators, tourism operators, security firms, catering and cleaning businesses”

The upcoming summer offers a range of free and ticketed events across the region – from the Auckland Lantern Festival to superstar music acts such as Elton John, Guns N’ Roses and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, top international sports action including the ASB Classic, the USA v Football Ferns international and the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Play-off Tournament, and the Aotearoa Art Fair and a summer exhibition direct from Europe, Renaissance: The Age of Genius bringing to life 500 works of the most recognised Renaissance artists using the latest multimedia technology.

Chris Simpson says: “Most of these amazing events had funding confirmed prior to the pandemic and are only now being delivered. But while we are experiencing an abundance of events currently, we will have gaps in the calendar if we are unable to secure the required funding to support our major and business events portfolio beyond next year.” 

With the goal to minimise the dependency on Auckland’s ratepayers, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited is exploring international best practise funding models, including with the private sector. This will support major events the organisation delivers, invests in and attracts to Tāmaki Makaurau.

Chris Simpson says: “There is no one solution to the financial challenges that the events sector is facing – it will take support from a range of industry partners and local and central government to ensure Auckland remains competitive in the international market and secures and develops world-class events for our region and New Zealand.”

From 2018 to March 2020, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development – now part of Tātaki Auckland Unlimited – received funding for destination marketing activities through Auckland Council’s collection of the Accommodation Provider Targeted Rate.

In September 2020, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited received $17 million of the Government’s Regional Events Fund designed to stimulate tourism and travel between regions through events.

The Regional Events Fund is in place until December 2024, with just $1.8 million of Tātaki Auckland Unlimited’s funding as yet uncommitted.

Chris Simpson says many other global destinations have significantly increased their investment in events, recognising their value to regional economic recovery and GDP while acknowledging the changed landscape with increased costs impacting international federations and event organisers – from hosting fees to commercial and compliance expectations, plus freight and event delivery.   

For this reason, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited is reviewing how the organisation approaches and funds event content, including the potential for increased ownership through a more targeted seasonal strategy. “These priority events will generate their own traditional commercial event revenue, such as sponsorship and ticketing – providing long term sustainability, as well as drive domestic and international visitors to our region at specific times of the year,” Simpson says.


Key highlights of sell out events or record-breaking attendances since July this year:

  • The opening match of Rugby World Cup 2021 (Playing in 2022) set a new world record crowd for women’s rugby and was the largest ever attendance at a female sporting event in New Zealand.
  • New Zealand Rugby League double-header at Mt Smart Stadium on Matariki weekend (Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns v Tonga)
  • Tall Blacks v Philippines (Basketball)
  • All Blacks v Ireland
  • Billie Eilish concert
  • ITM Auckland Supersprint (Supercars) and the FIA World Rally Championship
  • All Blacks v Wallabies, and All Whites v Socceroos double header
  • Auckland Diwali Festival (100,000 attendance, largest ever crowd)

Note: Some of the events listed above were scheduled for 2020 and/or 2021 but had to be postponed for delivery in 2022 and investment was confirmed prior to 2020.

Attendance highlights from events in our Tātaki Auckland Unlimited operated venues:

  • The opening weekend of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera: Art and Life in Modern Mexico at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki saw the highest visitor attendance on record for a ticketed exhibition since the building reopened in 2011. 
  • Total visits to the Gallery in FY23 so far number 127,301, an almost 300% increase compared with the same period last financial year, when the Gallery had to close for 89 days for Covid lockdowns.
  • Auckland Zoo’s South-East Asia Jungle Track officially opened in October, which marked the busiest October on record for the Zoo (currently celebrating its centenary year). 
  • Between June - October, Auckland Live and Auckland Conventions, Venues and Events presented 726 performances over 346 events to an audience of 233,942 across city centre venues.
  • Over the past few months, the New Zealand Maritime Museum Hui Te Ananui a Tangaroa has enjoyed daily visitation numbers mirroring pre-Covid figures and hosted several sold-out events, including a historical walking tour of Auckland’s waterfront and a tour of the Percy Vos Heritage Boat Yard in Wynyard Quarter.