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WEL Energy Trust To Sponsor Balloons Over Waikato

MEDIACOM-RELEASE-WEL-ENERGY-TRUST

WEL Energy Trust has become the major sponsor of this year's "Balloons Over Waikato festival".

The hot air balloon festival will be held at Innes Common and around Hamilton Lake, with balloons travelling throughout the Waikato from April 12 to 16.

More than 25 balloons are expected from around New Zealand, as well as pilots and balloons from the United States, Britain, and Australia.

Chairman Don Bethune announced today that the Trust had decided to grant the organisers, the Balloons Over Waikato Charitable Trust, $150,000 to ensure success as an " icon Waikato tourism and community event."

Apart from contributing to running costs, part of sponsorship would be used by the balloons trust to purchase a special shape balloon.

While not owning the balloon, the WEL Trust will have rights over its use during the sponsorship period.

Mr Bethune said he saw the balloon being used to help promote other community events in the region and the Waikato elsewhere in the country.

The balloon is currently under manufacture in Australia and will be arriving in Hamilton on April 6.

It features a spiral pattern with side vents and it rotates while being flown, showing the red, yellow and black colours of the Waikato region.

The balloon has two sponsor naming panels and is also able to fly a large promotional banner.

WEL Trust is prepared to allow the balloon to be available for other charity and community events and the naming panels could also be used by their sponsors.

The Trust's decision to become major sponsor joins financial support from the Hamilton City Council which has allocated $60,000.

Mr Bethune said as part of the grant, the Trust wanted all events free to the public.

This included the spectacular night glow event which previously was a pay-to-
enter show.

The WEL Trust has also secured a right of first refusal over the event in 2001 and 2002 with an investment of $100,000 each year if the right was taken up.

Chairman of the Balloons Over Waikato Charitable Trust, Graham Callis, described the involvement of the energy trust as " fantastic for the Waikato."

The 10 years that the event had been run had generated both national and international awareness of Hamilton and the Waikato.

"While the balloonfest was almost lost to the city last year when the original organiser moved the event to the Wairarapa, a last minute rescue move by the Waikato Chamber of Commerce, Gallagher Group and the Wel Trust, ensured that it went ahead in a reduced form," he said.

"With the backing of the Chamber, the council and WEL Trust we have now established a sound financial base from which to make this the premier balloon event in New Zealand, with all of the economic benefits that naturally flow from it in terms of media exposure and tourism.

"There is also the enjoyment of a spectacular free family event for the public, second only to the Ag Fieldays," he said.

For more information, contact Don Bethune, chairman WEL Energy Trust, telephone 07 847 6144 ( work), 07 847 98167 ( home), or Graham Callis, chairman, Balloons Over Waikato Charitable Trust, telephone 07 839 3889 ( work) or 07 854 3766 ( home)

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