As Cultural Festival Events Coordinator, Suzanne Tamaki is charged with helping community events get off the ground, and keeping them running, whatever the weather!
“The main events I look after are Diwali, Pasifika Festival, Waitangi Day, Matariki, and the New Zealand Community Football Cup which we run in conjunction with the police, which is kicking off on 29 November in Wakefield Park, Island Bay this year," says Suzanne.
Of course there are a few perks like free tickets to the odd show or two like WOW, but it’s far from a 9 to 5 job, and if you like your weekend to yourself and you’re thinking of being an events coordinator, think again.
“There are courses and qualifications for event management, and I do like to mentor the event students, but I really tell them the truth about the work I do – as it’s not as glamorous as they imagine.”
Suzanne learned her skills the old fashioned way: “I had a background in Maori and Pacific culture having worked in art and fashion with both communities, but it’s life experience and learning on the job that has got me to where I am today.”
“I’m not a fan of excel sheets, but I do love my computer. Everything is written down there, and I’m really organised, which is one of the most important things – as well as having really good connections with different networks, communities, bands and artists.”
Suzanne worked at Te Papa for five years in event production, but after a restructure, found the job at the Council and has been here for over a year now.
“I really enjoy working at the Council, I work with a great team, and we’re all working together to make Wellington a cool and positive place. I deal with loads of different networks, big scale events, and the adventure of outdoor shows too – which can be a real challenge in Wellington,” she laughs.
“Indoor venues aren’t always possible, so we prepare for the worst conditions, and in the worst case scenarios we have rain dates as a back-up for outdoor events.”
But sometimes Suzanne shows that a bit of wild weather is part of the fun: “Last New Year’s day, the band Trinity Roots was playing on stage and everyone was hiding under shelter because it was raining heavily, so I just started dancing in the rain anyway, and soon enough people followed – it was a refreshing start to the new year!”
Suzanne also really enjoys the growing melting pot of cultures in Wellington: “All these events are a result of the different communities in Wellington, but the community football cup is pretty special because it sees a lot of communities from places like Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya participate and connect without the issue of language barriers – sport and music have their own international language.”
A born and bred Wellingtonian, Suzanne had a ten year stint in Auckland but returned home for a number of reasons.
“It’s easier to make things happen here, it’s easier to connect, people are more generous, there’s more sharing, and people work alongside each other better too.”
On top of their own events, the Council also provides advice on how to run events and how to apply for street closures. Organisers can also receive financial support and training in event management workshops.
There are hundreds of events happening all over Wellington every week, and the best way to find out what and where they are is on our events page, our e-newsletters, or on Eventfinder.