Queenstown high school students complete epic Cook for a Cause 40-hour fundraiser

Media release from Wakatipu High School 40 Hour Famine

Six thousand meals for families in need around New Zealand and more than $14,000 raised for Syrian children displaced by war.

That was the end result for a group of young student leaders from Queenstown’s Wakatipu High School who did themselves and their community proud with their innovative 40 Hour Famine fundraiser which finished today (Sunday June 11).

Tired but hugely proud of their achievements, the 19 students declared it “a wrap” earlier this morning as final meals were boxed up and transported for freezing and distribution to City Missions in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland, as well as Queenstown’s own Happiness House.

The clock is still ticking on donations through their Wakatipu High School World Vision Cook for a Cause fundraising page which will continue to take donations for another three or four weeks to support World Vision’s child-friendly spaces in refugee camps in Jordan.

But for now the Year 11 to 13 students have headed home for some well-earned rest before school tomorrow.

The scale of their cook-a-thon, using the generous donation of Coronet Peak ski area’s commercial kitchen, with the support of Coronet Peak’s culinary team and top chef Mark Gregory, was huge.

Using Chef Gregory’s recipes for Shepherd’s Pie, Thai Chicken and Coconut Rice, and Spiced Apple cake, the students romped through:

  • 400kg of beef
  • 225kg of chicken from Brink’s
  • 320kg of potatoes from Raeward Fresh Queenstown
  • 96kg of butter and 25kg grated cheese from Dairyworks NZ
  • 70 litres of milk and 25 litres of cream
  • 1,000 eggs
  • 150kg of rice, flour and endless dried and tinned goods from Countdown Queenstown
  • 25kg bacon from Hellers
  • More than 500 apples donated locally by individuals from Glenorchy to Alexandra
  • $2,000 donation to buy food from Direct Safety
  • Donations and support from Bidfood Queenstown

Countdown Queenstown answered a last-minute call for help to mince all the beef, and Packaging Plus and Big Chill were essential to the whole operation in providing all containers and packaging, and chilling and delivering the meals around the country.

With the major meal components either donated or sponsored by these New Zealand companies, all money raised can be directed to help the millions of Syrian refugees forced to flee their homes in search of safety.

World Vision says the money will help re-establish the basic needs of refugees and supply them with things New Zealand families take for granted, like clean drinking water and a safe place for children to be children.

World Vision NZ CEO Chris Clarke and Syria Response Director for World Vision Wynn Flaten visited the students over the 40-hour project and helped package and label food.

Mr Clarke said the “real magic of the idea” by the Queenstown students had really caught their imagination — cooking for families in need in New Zealand while also raising money for Syrian refugees.

“The Syrian children we’re helping were once just like these students; they had school, friends and comfortable houses,” he said. “Now they’re living in garden sheds and have nothing, so we’re helping them come to terms with trauma and kick-starting their education again. Over five million children are refugees from Syria.”

Mr Flaten said he was “overwhelmed” by the commitment of the youth of New Zealand to the cause. “Our concern is that the world’s attention is being drawn away from the Syrian situation, but it’s something we shouldn’t forget,” he said.

Wakatipu High School teacher Penny Hearn, who has mentored the students over many months to help deliver their fundraiser, said she was thrilled with the end result.

“It’ an overwhelming feeling that we actually did it,” she said. “The support that we’ve had from around the region and nationally, I just don’t know how we can thank everybody enough for what we’ve achieved.

“We couldn’t have done it without that support. Queenstown is a pretty amazing community to be a part of.”

Mrs Hearn also singled out staff at Coronet Peak as “top notch”.

“It was a real pleasure dealing with them in the lead up to the event and throughout the 40 hours,” she said.

Donations are still welcome over the next few weeks on the Cook for a Cause fundraising page www.worldvision.org.nz/fundraising/team/cook-for-a-cause/40-hour-famine

Picture caption:

1/ Just some of the students and staff who ‘cooked for a cause’ at Coronet Peak this weekend. (L to R) Back row: Chris Clarke, Penny Hearn, Jordyn Clark. Middle row: Beatrice Onions, Elsie Anderson, Hugh Taylor, Harley Hamilton. Front row: Wynn Flaten, Lana Stevenson, Mio Akiyama, Lexi Rosemoore


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IHG New Zealand strikes gold at World Travel Awards

Media Release from InterContinental Wellington and Crowne Plaza Auckland

Two InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) New Zealand properties have struck gold at the prestigious World Travel Awards.

InterContinental Wellington was named Australasia’s Leading Conference Hotel for 2017, while Crowne Plaza Auckland was named New Zealand’s Leading Business Hotel for the third year.

The awards were presented at a red-carpet Gala Ceremony in Shanghai, China on Sunday (June 4 2017) where Steve Li, Director of Sales MICE & Leisure for IHG China, accepted the awards on behalf of both properties.

Area General Manager IHG New Zealand Tim Pollock said the accolades were testament to the commitment of staff and management to continuously improve products and services.

“InterContinental Wellington ensures the requirements of conference organisers and guests are exceeded by offering state-of-the-art technology, unique catering options and easily-accessible meeting spaces in the capital,” he said.

“Crowne Plaza Auckland was up against some of New Zealand’s biggest hotel names, and to take out top honours validates confidence in IHG’s exceptional level of service and business relationships that have been built up over the years.

“It’s heartening to see that both properties continue to operate at this very highest level enabling them to succeed in these very competitive markets.”

The capital’s InterContinental Wellington has previously won nine World Travel Awards including New Zealand’s Leading Hotel, New Zealand’s Leading Hotel Suite, New Zealand’s Leading Business Hotel and Australasia’s Leading Conference Hotel in 2015.

Located in the heart of Auckland’s business district, Crowne Plaza Auckland was previously awarded New Zealand’s Leading Business Hotel for two consecutive years in 2014 and 2015.

“It’s an honour to stand before the industry’s leading luminaries and international media to accept awards stringently audited by travel and tourism professionals across the world,” said Mr Pollock.

“We look forward to celebrating these very important milestones.”

A multi-million-dollar two-year refurbishment of InterContinental Wellington was completed in March 2015. The hotel has since continued to develop its luxury positioning with the creation of the elegant Spa InterContinental and its brand new Two Grey Bar and Brasserie, which adds a new level of sophistication to the Wellington culinary scene.

The property has also introduced two premium vehicles to its hotel fleet, a 2017 BMW 7 Series and Bentley Flying Spur.

Business innovations for business travellers at Crowne Plaza Auckland include the development of a ‘Sleep Advantage’ programme, recognising the importance of getting a great night’s sleep while travelling.

Key components of a well-rested stay are comfortable premium bedding, aromatherapy kits, designated quiet zones and a guaranteed wake-up call.

With the new Crowne Plaza Christchurch about to come on stream, IHG will operate six properties in New Zealand including Crowne Plaza Auckland and Crowne Plaza Queenstown, Holiday Inn Rotorua and Holiday Inn Auckland Airport, and InterContinental Wellington.

Picture caption:

1/ Director of Sales MICE & Leisure for IHG China Steve Li was honoured to accept New Zealand’s Leading Business Hotel award for Crowne Plaza Auckland

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Queenstown businesses and arts lovers support iconic violin competition

Media Release from the Michael Hill Violin Competition

Queenstown businesses and local arts lovers are throwing their support behind an iconic violin competition that recognises and fosters excellence among some of the world’s finest young musicians.

Founded in 2000, the Michael Hill International Violin Competition is a biennial competition bringing together 16 talented young violinists from all around the world to showcase their artistic mastery in Queenstown and Auckland.

Over eight days (this year from June 2 to 10) they perform a series of spellbinding competition pieces in their quest to win a prize package valued at over $100,000 and the opportunity to launch themselves onto the world stage.

A new sponsor this year is the Bayleys Realty Group, New Zealand’s largest full service real estate company, with offices in Queenstown, Auckland and every corner of the country.

Bayley Corporation managing director Mike Bayley said the company was proud to be associated with the Michael Hill International Violin Competition – bringing a world-class cultural event to New Zealand.

“As a passionate and committed New Zealander, Sir Michael’s enthusiasm for supporting the performing arts is well known,” Mr Bayley said. “Like Bayleys, the Michael Hill International Violin Competition is about encouraging excellence and putting New Zealand on the global stage.”

Bayleys is specifically sponsoring the Quarter Final Round One in the Queenstown Memorial Centre on the afternoon and evening of Friday June 2. The session includes a special supporters’ session for ‘Pass’ holders (light lunch included) at 1pm to meet artists and hear about new elements of the competition.

This is followed by an ‘Insiders Guide’ talk by judge selector Stephen Larsen and two sessions starting at 3pm and 7pm.  Bayleys is also sponsoring the continuation of the Round One Quarter Final on Saturday June 3 (with two sessions starting at 10am and 2pm).

Queenstown Airport is supporting the violin competition by helping showcase it to airport users, and will also host a group of local young Suzuki violin children who will play for the largest group of violin competitors when they arrive on Monday May 29.

Queenstown Airport CEO Colin Keel and his partner Ian Jackson have personally donated the $5,000 cash third prize. Other new local sponsors include Peter and Tiffany Campell of construction and project management company GBS Ltd (formerly Triple Star Project Management) who are sponsoring competitor Yoo Min Seo from South Korea.

Other invaluable Queenstown-based sponsors include Millbrook Resort, Eichardt’s Private Hotel, The Spire Hotel, Hotel St Moritz, Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel, Limousine Line Queenstown, Over The Top helicopter company, The Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Queenstown Resort College.

QRC students are learning vital ‘on the job’ event management skills through mentorship of the Michael Hill Violin Competition.

The 2017 Michael Hill International Violin Competition showcases the extraordinary skills of 16 violinists aged 18 to 28 (whittled down from 140 applicants representing 32 countries).

Wellington’s Ben Baker is the sole kiwi among the troupe, up against musicians from Japan, South Korea, Russia, the US, Switzerland, Romania and Kazakhstan.

With eight sessions from Friday June 2 to Monday June 5, audiences can experience the thrill of ‘the hunt’ as musicians compete for the $40,000 top prize, a recording contract and Australasian performance tour (with the chance to play on Sir Michael Hill’s 1755 Guadagnini ‘The Southern Star’ violin).

Flexible attendance options cater to classical music connoisseurs as well as those keen to enjoy the weekend.

Local violinists can learn from and work with visiting musicians through workshops, master classes, rehearsals and talks with industry professionals.

Queenstown locals are being encouraged to check out a special ‘locals deal’ on Saturday afternoon with discounted ticket prices.

Locals are encouraged to come in for the Saturday afternoon session (2pm – 5pm) to hear four of 16 competitors each perform works by Bach, Paganini, a Salon Piece and an ‘individual’s choice’ – an exciting new category where competitors ‘show what they’ve got’!

Come earlier at 1.30pm to hear about violin technique and what judges look for.

Pre-booking is highly recommended – head to www.violincompetition.co.nz

Picture caption:

1/ Bayleys Locations Queenstown director Stacy Coburn is delighted the company is supporting the Michael Hill Violin Competition

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New Masterclass in Queenstown for conference and incentive market

Media Release from Crowne Plaza Queenstown

Queenstown’s premier lakefront hotel, Crowne Plaza Queenstown, is inviting meetings and conference guests to ‘raise a glass’ to Central Otago vintages.

Ringed by mountains interlaced with award-winning vineyards, the property has developed a unique offering for conference packages based around the region’s world-renowned premium wines.

The new product, called Masterclass, is available to delegates enjoying a three-course dinner as part of their conference package, where they’re invited to learn about the story of Central Otago’s wine region.

The enhanced dinner experience perfectly blends the work delegates might do throughout their business day with the restorative power of a food and wine journey that is educational while still being fun.

Masterclass guests will soak up wine knowledge from a Mt Difficulty Wines representative including the region’s social history from the time of European settlement in 1860’s to environmental factors such as geology, latitude and climate that allows Central Otago to produce world-class wines.

Crowne Plaza Queenstown General Manager Anna Edie said the Masterclass product was the perfect way to help ignite the spirit of conference delegates.

“From mid-sized conferences to incentive groups and intimate meetings in the boardroom, we host a diverse range of events each year,” said Ms Edie.

“As market leaders, we’re always looking at ways of improving our conference packages and feel we’ve ticked all the boxes for a truly memorable experience.

“While three different varietals are served with dinner as part of the Masterclass experience, Pinot Noir is known amongst winemakers as being notoriously fickle.

“Just like business, winemakers need to have robust processes in place which strive for perfection. When inspiring leaders like winemakers get it right, the result is a thing of beauty.”

The Masterclass package starts from $100 per person including three courses from the new-look banquets menu with Mt Difficulty wine matches, and is available for up to 100 delegates.

Conveniently located in the heart of Queenstown’s retail and business district, Crowne Plaza Queenstown is well-known as the hotel of choice for conference and events bookings, the home of inspiring meetings in an inspirational setting.

The property has recently completed a half a million-dollar refurbishment offering a fresh new look for guests including new furniture and carpets in its conference spaces, restaurant and bar, and public areas.

The hotel’s four meeting rooms look out over breathtaking Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range and are all located on one level, with floor-to-ceiling windows, high-end meeting technology and connectivity and balcony access with black-out capability when views threaten to become too distracting.

Crowne Plaza Queenstown’s ground-floor threesixty restaurant is the perfect place to sit back, relax and enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner, High Tea, or a good coffee as part of meetings or incentive packages.

Last year a High Tea experience was also launched for the meetings, conventions and business events markets. The High Tea can include such delights as a selection of finger sandwiches, homemade scones, and a range of sweets, all served on a three-tiered cake stand.

Picture caption:

1/ Crowne Plaza Queenstown’s threesixty restaurant overlooks the breathtaking Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range

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