Jenaya and her brother Toryn Argyle at last year’s Kite Festival. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

Kite festival soars to 30

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A giant teddy bear, a school of fish and a waddle of penguins are set to soar over Neale Park this weekend in what will be a milestone event for the Nelson Kite Festival.

The festival is celebrating 30 years with their first ever two-day event – but despite its popularity, it hasn’t been an easy three-decades according to organiser Ted Howard.

“At the height of the Nelson Kite Club we had 30 to 40 members, now there is just a handful of us. We get by, just. We rattle the donation bucket and that’s what we scrape by on.”

The event used to be funded under Nelson City Council’s summer events programme, but Ted says they were “pushed out” over 20 years ago.

“We haven’t been able to convince the council about the importance of this event. We’ve barely got enough funds to pay for the minimum. Last year we had neighbours rattling the donation buckets.”

He says it’s up to public support to keep the event going.

“It’s a challenge and it’s hard work. We’re not getting younger, but as long as people show up, we’ll keep running it. If everybody brought a gold coin along, we would really appreciate it.”

And why does he keep doing it?

“I guess we are just crazies – people call us ‘Tako Kichi’ which means ‘kite crazy people’ in Japanese,” says Ted.

“When we get a nice sea breeze and can pack the sky with colour and dance, people just go ‘wow’ and instead of coming for half an hour they spend the whole afternoon there. It’s about getting out there and having some fun.”

The Nelson Kite Festival is on 18 and 19 January at Neale Park from 12pm – 5pm. There will a field for public flying along with buggy rides and public displays. Anyone wanting to help with the festival or donate please contact Ted on 021 238 6450.