Raw material for floats getting rare

Alexandra Blossom Festival event manager Martin McPherson is surrounded by floats for the festival made with crepe paper, which is now hard to obtain in New Zealand. Photo: Tom Kitchin
Alexandra Blossom Festival event manager Martin McPherson is surrounded by floats for the festival made with crepe paper, which is now hard to obtain in New Zealand. Photo: Tom Kitchin
The face of the Alexandra Blossom Festival could change as supplies of the traditional crepe paper used for the floral floats is under threat.

Festival event manager Martin McPherson said the supply of crepe in New Zealand had been exhausted and this could mean a shortage of the paper that was used to create the floats.

Crepe paper has been used for the festival floats throughout the event's 60-year history, although real blossoms from local fruit trees also decorated some floats early on.

Volunteers spend hours turning the crepe paper into thousands of paper flowers that adorn the floats.

In past years, floats featured everything from miner's cottages, cartoon characters and animals.

New World Alexandra co-owner Kevin Ryan said the supermarket had just bought the last pallet of crepe paper available in the country.

''There used to be three importers of paper [and] that has dwindled over the years,'' he said.

''Our last supplier informed us that they will no longer be able to supply us what we need. People don't stock crepe paper in warehouses any more - people go online these days.''

New World sponsors the festival and gives the crepe paper away for float-making.

Mr Ryan said while the festival had a big enough quantity for this year, the choice of colours would be restricted.

Mr McPherson said he had found likely alternative suppliers such as AliExpress in China.

''You may see the festival importing materials from China so that we can still support the colourful creations that cruise along Centennial Avenue in September.''

Mr McPherson also said there were some duck floats in storage in Alexandra that had been sitting around for about four years.

People were welcome to pick up the duck floats and repair them to use in the festival, he said.

tom.kitchin@odt.co.nz

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