In September 2020, a $50 million Regional Events Fund (REF) was developed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) as part of the Government’s Tourism Recovery Package in response to COVID-19.  

The REF aims to use events to stimulate domestic travel and tourism between regions to help support the tourism and events sectors. The fund is designed to replace some of the lost revenue caused by border closures and the lack of international visitation and spend.  

The fund has been allocated to nine International Marketing Alliance (IMA) groupings of the 31 Regional Tourism Organisations of New Zealand. Each IMA has been allocated funding based on their share of New Zealand’s international visitor spend prior to COVID-19.  

Under this model, MBIE is not making decisions on which events are funded. Each IMA grouping has the autonomy to determine the mix of events that best meets the regions’ needs over the next two to four years.    

Auckland Unlimited and Northland Inc. form one of the nine IMAs, and have collectively been granted $19 million through the REF. In December 2020, MBIE signed off a high-level Regional Investment Plan which outlines how Northland Inc and Auckland Unlimited will approach the fund.  

Key requirements of the framework include the following:  

  • REF funding cannot be used to replace existing confirmed funding. 
  • REF funding cannot be used to cannibalise events from other New Zealand destinations. 
  • Funding must be used in 2 to 4-year period from January 2021.  
  • Funding must primarily drive domestic tourism into the region or stimulate intra-regional visitation. 

This document sets out in more detail how Auckland Unlimited will manage Auckland’s share of the fund.  

Auckland Unlimited’s Regional Events Fund  

Based on the relative share of international visitor spend, Auckland Unlimited has been allocated $17m, with Northland Inc allocated the remaining $2m.  

Auckland Unlimited’s REF will be delivered via three key funds.  

  • Auckland Business Events Fund  
  • National Events Fund  
  • Anchor Events Fund  

The key over-arching objectives underpinning the strategy are: 

  • Driving domestic visitation to Tāmaki Makaurau 
  • Contributing to Auckland’s regional economy 
  • Promoting Auckland’s identity nationally and internationally and showcasing the key elements of Auckland’s Place Brand 
  • Enhancing the quality of people’s lives via event participation and affiliated social initiatives 
  • Position Auckland as a premier business events destination to ensure economic benefit to the region is maximised and the region’s assets and venues are optimised 
  • Supporting Auckland tourism and events businesses to innovate and thrive 

Funding priorities 

The REF will be used to stimulate tourism by supporting new events, or the development of additional elements/activity for planned events.  

To maximise the social, economic and other benefits generated by the funded activity, REF investment will be prioritised towards activities or initiatives that:   

  • Promote tourism – increasing visitor nights, targeting high-value visitors, and increased tourism activity, particularly in the shoulder seasons 
  • Generate economic benefits for the region 
  • Encourage regional dispersal 
  • Generate experiences not available elsewhere in Auckland or New Zealand  
  • Promote the key themes of the Auckland Place Brand 
  • Generate legacy benefits for the region 
  • Align with Auckland Unlimited priority sectors (see guidelines for more details) 
  • Minimise negative impacts including environmental, congestion, disruption to businesses or disorderly behaviour.  

You can see an overview of each fund below or click on the links above to view the full guidelines for each fund including further detail on how to apply.  

Auckland Business Events Fund  

The Auckland Business Events Fund (ABEF) allows Auckland Convention Bureau (ACB) to offer financial support at the critical bidding stage, to help secure national and international business events to the city.
The New Zealand Government and Auckland Convention Bureau are dedicated to supporting business events that bring people together to exchange knowledge and ideas, strengthen relationships, attract investment and talent flows, and create new jobs for the people of Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland.
To be considered for funding, your business event must:

  • not yet be confirmed to take place in Auckland
  • be considered an ‘eligible business event.’  This includes conferences, conventions, symposiums, congresses, meetings, B2C tradeshows and incentive travel programmes
  • have an event start date through to 30 June 2024
  • attract out of region attendees (criteria to be discussed at the time of application)

A business events’ suitability for support will be assessed against a number of criteria, including but not limited to:

  • the ability to drive visitation to Auckland
  • the extent to which the business event supports regional yield and dispersal
  • whether the business event aligns to Auckland’s economic priority sectors
  • the events’ opportunity for future growth or to act as a catalyst to bid for future international business event(s)

For more information or to discuss funding for your business event contact the team by emailing

National Events Fund  

The contestable National Events Fund will be managed through Auckland Unlimited’s existing National Programme.  

There will be three annual application rounds (see below) in which event operators are invited to submit applications to secure investment. The investment will support specific time-bound activities that help improve the social, economic, profile or environmental outcomes that events deliver for Auckland.  

For full details of the programme see the National Programme Guidelines.


To be eligible for National Programme funding, an event must meet the following criteria:  

  • Drive visitation from outside of Auckland but predominantly within New Zealand1,2  
  • Be delivered in Auckland during the period(s) specified in the funding round 
  • Be a public facing event (and not a trade show or convention) 
  • Applications must be for 25 per cent or less of the total event budget 
  • Requested funding is <$200,000 
  • Events will need to either commit to meeting the zero waste guidelines on or identify a minimum of three actions to move towards being zero waste event in future.  

How to apply 

The National Programme application rounds will open three times a year (1-30 October; 1-30 April; and 1-31 August) during which time applications can be submitted. Out of cycle applications will be accepted when there is a compelling reason the application cannot wait for the next available round.  

If you wish to apply to the National Events Fund, the first step is to call and discuss your event with the events team at Auckland Unlimited by emailing, to request a call back.  

Anchor Events Fund 

The Anchor Events Fund will include research and targeted event development work led by Auckland Unlimited as well as a contestable element which will be managed through Auckland Unlimited’s existing Major Programme. This fund will be allocated over the four years to July 2024. 

For further details, see the Major Programme Guidelines


To be eligible for Anchor Event Funding via the Major Programme, an event must meet the following criteria:  

  • Drive visitation/media exposure from outside of New Zealand 
  • Not receive funding from another Auckland Unlimited investment programme 
  • Be a public facing event (and not a trade show or convention) 
  • Be delivered in Auckland before December 2024 
  • Events will need to either commit to meeting the zero waste guidelines on or identify a minimum of three actions to move towards being zero waste event in future.  

How to apply 

Applications to the Anchor Events Fund can be submitted at any time, allowing sufficient time for assessment and approval.   

If you wish to apply to the programme, the first step is to call and discuss your event with a member of the Major Events team by emailing to request a call back. 


Where can I find more information about the Regional Events Fund? 

See the MBIE website for more details on the Regional Events Fund and how the fund is being managed in other regions.  

How can I find out more about when the application windows open? 

Sign up to the Major Events Funding mailing list to receive reminders when application rounds are opening. 

How does this relate to the Auckland Council’s Regional Events Fund?

This is not related to the Regional Events Fund Grants Programme administered by Auckland Council which is designed so support events with a more local focus that deliver to the regional objectives of the Local Boards and other governing bodies.   

Can I apply for these funds if my event is already receiving funding from other central/local government sources?  

You can apply for funding from REF if you have secured other funding. These funding sources will need to be declared during the application process.  

What events are not eligible? 

Based on the MBIE guidance, REF funding cannot be used for events which do not drive out of region visitation (for example, a community farmers market, annual Santa parade). This is because these sorts of events do not provide significant flow-on benefits to tourism operators in regions, such as those in the accommodation and hospitality businesses.