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Garden City clinches Ellerslie show

Published: 1:54PM Monday November 19, 2007 Source: ONE News/Newstalk ZB

The biggest garden show in the Southern Hemisphere, the Ellerslie International Flower Show, is moving to Christchurch after 13 years in Auckland.

And while the flower show is a winner for the Garden City, Auckland is lamenting the pruning of yet another money-spinning event which will cost the region millions of dollars.

For the last nine years, the gardening extravaganza has been held at Auckland's botanical gardens in Manukau City. But this year a license renewal opened up the ground for other cities to claim their stake to host the show from next year.

The Ellerslie show is the biggest of its kind in Australasia and more than 60,000 people attended over the five days of the show last week.

Not just packing up for another year, many exhibitors are now packing up for good at the Ellerslie flower show.

News of Ellerslie's shift south is a disappointment to many who have enjoyed success at the current venue.

Some of them say they can't afford to go south a show in Christchurch.

The Auckland Regional Council and Manukau City Council are also disappointed its $14 million showcase event has been snatched from under its nose.

"I think there's a real lesson for the Auckland region. Canterbury, well-resourced, united and willing to invest. Our response was seven cities, seven different opinions," says Michael Barnett of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce.

"These are high net worth people. Twenty per cent of the people coming here are from out of Auckland. They come here, stay in good hotels, go to good restaurants and spend money. These are the sorts of people that we want to come here," says Barnett.

Auckland's gardeners are naturally disappointed.

"It's a bit disappointing for Auckland to see all that money come here that would've gone down to Christchurch. But oh well that's the council," says one woman.

Another gardening enthusiast says it's Auckland's event and Auckland's Ellerslie flower show .

"And that's the way it should stay," he says.

But Ellerslie flower show organisers are confident it's the right move. David Mee of Ellerslie International Flower Show says Christchurch is the Garden City and can stage the show in a central city location. He says the organisers believe people will embrace the show in Christchurch.

But Auckland is promising Christchurch a run for its money with a new spring show already on the drawing board.