Better access to midwinter carnival

Excited to implement accessibility improvements for the Dunedin Midwinter Carnival this year are ...
Excited to implement accessibility improvements for the Dunedin Midwinter Carnival this year are (from left) carnival co-manager Nate Laurie, disability advocate Amy Taylor (front) and carnival co-manager Xanthe Naylor. PHOTO: CRAIG BIRCH-MORUNGA
The Dunedin Midwinter Carnival has made some important changes to help increase participation and accessibility for all.

Last year’s event received some feedback via post-event surveys and social media around accessibility issues for some people in the community.

Accessibility limitations meant that as a wheelchair user, community member and disability advocate Amy Taylor had great difficulty in navigating the site, in the grounds of First Church and its buildings, last year.

These limitations caused Ms Taylor stress and an inability to keep up with her children — at the time aged 5 and 8 years, but also meant she could not enjoy the full experience of the festival.

Ms Taylor reached out to the Dunedin Midwinter Carnival team to address the issues and offer her assistance in helping to remedy these issues for this year’s event, coming up next Friday and Saturday, June 21 and 22.

"I have been really impressed with their willingness to listen and make changes to make the event more accessible" she said.

Dunedin Midwinter Carnival trustee and secretary Leisa de Klerk completed an extensive assessment of the event as a whole, developing a plan in line with the trust’s accessibility outcomes.

Using this plan as a basis, Ms Taylor worked alongside fellow community member Bronwyn Powell, and event co-managers Xanthe Naylor and Nate Laurie to identify areas for improvement and what could be actioned for this year’s event.

"The work done to increase the accessibility of the event is an ongoing process, particularly since the shift of the event to the First Church site," Ms de Klerk said.

"We’re pleased that our partners have come on board to assist with our concerns and welcome the developments that make it easier for all to enjoy the carnival."

The new accessibility features for this year’s carnival are: a sensory friendly hour, designated accessibility drop-off zone, priority ticket lane for mobility card holders, ramps to increase wheelchair access site-wide, increased seating and designated accessible seating inside First Church, wider pathways in Burns Hall, volunteers at accessible entrances to help guide people, designated accessible portaloo, and increased signage around accessible areas and entrances.

Ms Naylor said ensuring the Dunedin Midwinter Carnival was an inclusive event was very important.

"We are so grateful for Amy and Bronwyn working alongside us to help tackle these issues.

"We’re really proud with what we’ve been able to put in place for this year’s event and are really excited for our future goals," she said.

Sensory friendly hour

The introduction of a sensory friendly hour is an opportunity for those who are susceptible to crowds, loud music, flashing lights, or have accessibility needs, to still be able to enjoy the carnival.

The session will be held on Saturday, June 22, from 5pm-6pm, and those attending are welcome to stay on for performances.

Tickets are available via partner organisations — for more information visit the website

Pay it forward

The pay-it-forward ticket scheme closes this Friday, June 14.

Pay-it-forward is a ticketing option where the community can purchase tickets to be passed on to families through local organisations.

 - The Dunedin Midwinter Carnival will be held on June 21-22, at First Church, Moray Pl. Postponement dates are June 28-29.

Event tickets and pay-it-forward tickets are available via