Politicians, protestors, nerdy young Nats and journalists by the truck load.
Nelson had all the right ingredients for a major political conference over the weekend and the city stepped up to the plate as well, with all parties enjoying their stay and in the process injecting a fair amount of cash into the local economy.
The National Party conference on Saturday and Sunday delivered plenty of headlines across the country for the policies announced by Prime Minister John Key and the protests taking place outside the Rutherford Hotel, where the conference was held. Protestors took the opportunity to voice their opposition to a range of policies including the GCSB bill, TPPA negotiations, workers’ rights and the sale of state owned assets.
But the major success for Nelson was it just being here in the first place. The conference was the first to make use of the upgraded facilities at the Rutherford Hotel and local MP Nick Smith says the delegates were impressed. “This is a big deal for Nelson. It’s the first time in the party’s 77-year history that its national conference has been staged in our region.’’
The fun began on Friday night when John Key officially opened a new exhibition on former Prime Minister and Nelson man Keith Holyoake at the Nelson Provincial Museum. There the PM gifted Holyoake’s typewriter, which he bought at an auction, to the museum.
Commenting on his predecessor, John joked, “He had the good sense to know that greens were something you ate, not something you listen to.”
That was followed by a craft beer tasting back at the Rutherford, where Nick unveiled his home brew that featured in last week’s Nelson Weekly.
Policy announcement and other official engagements were held on Saturday and Sunday.
Nelson Tasman Tourism chief executive Lynda Keene says conferences are great for the region and more are on the way with the 2014 Local Government New Zealand conference coming to Nelson.