Rotorua Council Imports $90K of South Korean Mud for New Zealand’s Inaugural Mud Festival

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Five tonnes of South Korean mud will be imported to Rotorua for the Mudtopia Festival later this year, the Rotorua Daily Post reports, after Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick and Boryeong Mayor Kim Dong-il signed a mud supply agreement in South Korea last week.

The council will buy “five tonnes of the mud powder for use in the opening years for Mudtopia”, council major events co-ordinator Jason Cameron confirmed yesterday in response to Rotorua Daily Post questions.

The imported mud, to be used in the first five years of the festival, will cost $90,000 – with taxpayers footing the bill.


The decision to spend $90,000 of taxpayer money importing mud to Rotorua, in-arguably New Zealand’s home of mud, has understandingly been met with criticism.

According to the Rotorua Daily Post, their Facebook readers have slammed the expenditure saying Rotorua had enough mud of its own and the money should be used for other purposes “like fixing potholes or housing the homeless.”

The Rotorua Daily Post further reports, “The Taxpayers’ Union has also waded in, with one of the organisation’s researchers, Matthew Rhodes, saying he was astounded at the Government’s decision to approve $1.5 million of funding for the festival and the council’s decision to spend $90,000 buying mud.”

“How MBIE and Rotorua Lakes Council think spending $90,000 on importing mud from overseas is a good idea is beyond imagination. It’s like Dubai importing sand for a desert festival. Whether it’s funded by the ratepayer or the taxpayer, either way it is still public money, and the council’s attitude to this spending shows little regard for those who earned it,” the Rotorua Daily Post quotes Mr Rhodes as saying.

Rotorua Lakes Council cultural adviser and councillor Trevor Maxwell said “the perception ratepayer money would be used to import mud for the festival was unfair and misleading. He said the arrangement was part of trying to make Rotorua’s inaugural festival as good as it could be.”

The imported mud will make up about 16 per cent of the mud used in the inaugural Mudtopia Festival, the Rotorua Daily Post states. The rest will come from a local quarry, rather than from any protected geothermal features.

The Mudtopia Festival takes place December 1-3rd and will be the Southern Hemisphere’s first mud festival.

The festival has received $1.5 million from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s major events development fund over five years as well as support from sponsors and funders.

The festival will feature a mud run, mud arena, and mud games, as well as mud stage, mud day spa and mud wellness activities.

For the full news on the mud supply agreement, read the Rotorua Daily Post’s articles here and here.

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