Better parking management goal for next time

Among the 350 volunteers at Warbirds Over Wanaka are (from left), Noeline Gifford of Wānaka,...
Among the 350 volunteers at Warbirds Over Wanaka are (from left), Noeline Gifford of Wānaka, Annabel Cameron of Christchurch, site manager Craig McMillan, of Wānaka, volunteer manager Don Grant, of Wānaka, Therese Forbes, of Dunedin, and Janine Clarke, of Diamond Harbour. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK
Happiness is a well-parked car, an army of volunteers discovered at the sold-out Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow at the weekend.

The efforts of the team of 350 volunteers — including 50 air cadets — have been praised by volunteer manager Don Grant and site manager Craig McMillan.

In their day jobs, Mr Grant drives a school bus, and is chairman of the Wānaka Airport Users Group, while Mr McMillan is a construction project manager.

Both loved the challenge of helping more than 60,000 people find their way around the airshow and enjoyed the teamwork, even when some things did not go smoothly.

Mr Grant said all feedback was good feedback and there would be a big debriefing.

"Everyone is being lovely to each other ... It has been great," Mr Grant said.

"I’ve had fun," Mr McMillan said.

Volunteers came from all over the country and as far away as Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Many had not volunteered at Warbirds before and a six-year break in shows due to Covid meant some institutional memory had been lost.

Combined with a new event team, new digital ways of recording and communicating, and record crowd numbers, sometimes things went awry.

Many things were also "fantastic", leaving Mr Grant and his team thinking "next time, it will be easier".

"Every day of the show we have met to say, what can we do better? Parking was chaotic, especially leaving the show on Friday. That could have been better managed," Mr Grant said.

Mr McMillan agreed parking arrangements were quite disorientating for some people.

"You should have seen people’s faces, the relief when they found their cars.

"I have had some fantastic feedback too, from people about seeing disabled people being helped by volunteers to get seats and helped with their lunch," Mr McMillan said.