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Toitoi Wins Two National Industry Awards

Earlier this week Toitoi – Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre won two national event industry venue awards, in recognition of their commitment to the Hastings and Hawke’s Bay community, and its work towards creating career pathways in the events industry. It also included Toitoi’s efforts to use arts and entertainment events as a means of supporting the region in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle.

Toitoi Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre staff (from left) Glen Pickering, Lara Paaymans and Megan Peacock Coyle at the Entertainment Venues Association of New Zealand (EVANZ) Awards in Ōtepoti Dunedin on Wednesday night. Toitoi was named 2023 Small Venue of the Year. Photo/Allison Images

Toitoi – Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre’s Technical Manager Dane Fletcher was also named EVANZ Team Member of the Year. Photo/SUPPLIED

Earlier this week Toitoi – Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre won two national event industry venue awards, in recognition of their commitment to the Hastings and Hawke’s Bay community, and its work towards creating career pathways in the events industry. It also included Toitoi’s efforts to use arts and entertainment events as a means of supporting the region in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle.

Held in Ōtepoti Dunedin, the annual Events Venues Association of New Zealand (EVANZ) Awards recognised eight award categories this year, with Toitoi and its team named finalists in the four categories it entered, and winners of two categories.

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The venue won Small Venue of the Year, and its Technical Manager, Dane Fletcher, was named Team Member of the Year. It is the second time Toitoi has been named Small Venue of the Year, having also been recognised in 2021.

In addition, Event Manager, Lara Paaymans, was a finalist for Rising Star of the Year, and Presenter Services Manager, Glen Pickering was a finalist for Team Leader of the Year.

Judging was undertaken by a panel of judges assembled from leading entertainment and events organisations and EVANZ Board members. A small venue is defined as one which has fewer than 1000 seats, with Toitoi’s Opera House seating 979.

Judges said Toitoi’s venue entry was a “great snapshot of why Toitoi is such a special venue”.

“It’s ambitious, innovative, and proud to be part of the community that it works with. We loved the examples of partnering with local suppliers and businesses, and the examples of staff that have gone from being trainees through to fulltime staff members.”

Hastings District Council Arts & Culture Manager and Toitoi Kaiwhakahaere Megan Peacock-Coyle said it was an honour to win the award, which reflected the ongoing success and hard work of the whole Toitoi team.

“The kaupapa at Toitoi has held really strong,” Ms Peacock Coyle says. “We’ve been through some hard times since we opened in 2020, but in that time we’ve had an amazing team of people who have just made things happen. I’m just so proud of everybody. At the heart of everything we do is our commitment to mana whenua, tangata whenua, and our community,” she said.

Other finalists in the Small Venue of the Year category included Q Theatre in Tāmaki Makaurau

Auckland and the Carterton Events Centre.

Toitoi’s Technical Manager Dane Fletcher says it was an unexpected honour to win Team Member of the Year.

“This award isn’t just a reflection of me, but of all the excellent work done by our whole technical team over the past 12 months. I have a great team who always work hard to anticipate our clients’ needs and exceed their expectations,” he said.

Judges said there were clear examples of Dane going above and beyond to embody the Toitoi values.

“[There was] clear evidence of Dane being a highly valued member of the team, and great examples of the changes and improvements that Dane has made to technical staffing at Toitoi. He sounds like a team member that would be a real asset to any venue, and to any community.”

Hastings District Council chief executive Nigel Bickle said Toitoi has had an incredible year, despite the wider region facing new challenges thanks to Cyclone Gabrielle. “It’s extremely gratifying to know that the heritage venue we have invested in, here in Hastings, isn’t just the best in Hawke’s Bay, but all of Aotearoa, for its size,” he said.

“Toitoi’s continued success at a national level reflects the skill and leadership of its staff. They are resilient and adaptable and always have manaaki for our community, when they need it most. Their audiences and their clients at the heart of all they do,” Mr Bickle said.

“The Toitoi team’s passion for Hastings and seeing arts and culture thrive in our district has seen it grow and in leaps and bounds since it reopened. Dane Fletcher played a key role in the restoration of Toitoi’s heritage buildings and it’s great to see him being recognised for his contributions to his industry on a national level. We look forward to celebrating this win with the Toitoi team and our community.”

About EVANZ

EVANZ is the peak body representing the venue industry in New Zealand with a membership of 120 venues nationally. This includes theatres, event centres, outdoor stadia and convention centres. EVANZ aims to provide leadership and builds excellence for entertainment venues and their teams. EVANZ facilitates the collective sharing of information, enhancement of skills and development of best practice in the entertainment venues industry.

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