Hard News by Russell Brown


The truth about "Party Central"

Tonight's Media7 on "party central" and related debacles is, as you'd expect from the composition of the panel, a lively and noisy affair. But I think one element warrants highlighting. Our researcher, Sarah Daniell, did what no one else seems to have done, and asked Rugby New Zealand 2011 CEO Martin Snedden about "party central".

Specifically, she asked about the claim – touted by everyone from the Prime Minister down, and relayed in the news media – that RNZ 2011 (which you'll recall is a joint venture formed by the government and the rugby union to stage the Rugby World Cup) is contractually obligated to the IRB to provide a "party central" in the Auckland CBD.

This is Martin Snedden's response, as aired on the show tonight:

"The answer is absolutely no. We were not obligated to provide a party central. What we did say to the IRB was we'd provide fan zones around the country. We are doing that of our own initiative.

"This party central thing is a load of rubbish. It's being promoted as an almighty piss-up and that is not our intention.

"It's been a bit frustrating watching the debate, to be honest. The fan zones will have all sorts of other activities besides drinking and they will basically be places for big screens and fans to gather. The percentage of space for alcohol will be about 20 percent of what's available at Queens Wharf. If that.

"The terminolgoy around this is terrible. They are areas for the public to gather. We don't even know yet how Queens Wharf will develop - the decision's only just been made and frankly I feel for poor Auckland because they have had no idea how to develop a plan yet."

So, no, there's no obligation to provide "party central". Fan zones are already being established around the country, by RNZ 2011. "Party central" is, like the ambassadors' scheme, entirely a creation of government ministers. And the people staging the tournament seem to be finding it enormously unhelpful.

Nice to have that cleared up.

Media7 on "party central", featuring Pam Corkery, John Dybvig, Simon Wilson and Sean Plunket; 9.10pm tonight on TVNZ 7.

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