Jacaranda Festival committee confirms intention to invite New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and the Imam of the Al Noor Mosque to Grafton for a ceremony on November 2.
Jacaranda Festival committee confirms intention to invite New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and the Imam of the Al Noor Mosque to Grafton for a ceremony on November 2.

Jacaranda invites written for NZ PM, mayor, Muslim imam

AN IDEA to invite New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to Grafton to be part of the Jacaranda Festival has brought the city and its connection to the Christchurch massacre back into the spotlight.

A Sydney newspaper article published yesterday about the upcoming floral festival revealed Jacaranda Festival manager Mark Blackadder had come up with the proposal as a way to showcase Grafton's inclusiveness.

It was backed up by festival president Jeff Smith who said it seemed an appropriate gesture given the recent tragedy in Christchurch.

"The idea was recently raised at a committee meeting and we all thought it would give us the opportunity to take control of the conversation that continues to play out on an international stage," Mr Smith said.

He said a co-ordinated approach across community, council and business groups would be required to successfully host a delegation from New Zealand.

However that process was hijacked when metropolitan media stole their thunder.

"Before we could discuss it further or formalise it, we were caught off guard by the Sydney media who have taken a keen interest and reported on it before any decision had been made locally," Mr Smith said.

An effective social media marketing strategy has seen an influx of Chinese tourists descend on Grafton for the 2018 Jacaranda Festival.
An effective social media marketing strategy has seen an influx of Chinese tourists descend on Grafton for the 2018 Jacaranda Festival. The Daily Examiner

Mr Smith can now confirm that an invitation has been drafted to send to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and the Imam of the Al Noor Mosque to gauge their availability to attend a ceremony in Grafton on November 2.

"This is all about inclusiveness and showing that even though we had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks our hearts are big enough to offer support and friendship," Mr Smith said.

"There is already talk of erecting a peace pole within the grounds of the Grafton Cathedral, so we might as well make this a co-ordinated event - it's not about tourism or putting the wrong light on the town, it's about us showing that we care.

"It's very early days, but the idea has gathered a head of steam and we need to see if it has merit.

"There's people that will support it and people who won't, but that's what striving for inclusiveness is all about.

"Community inclusiveness has been a key theme of the festival for the past 85 years, so an initiative such as this makes sense."

Should NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern be invited to attend the 2019 Jacaranda Festival in Grafton?

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Condolence book to be delivered to Christchurch

CLARENCE Valley Council received a positive response from community members who signed the condolence book it created for the victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack.  

The pages were available at council and shopping centres throughout April for people to sign and leave their own personalised messages of condolence.  

The books have now closed and a council spokesperson said a healthy number of pages were filled in which will now be bound into a book before they are delivered.  

Clarence Valley Mayor Jim Simmons and general manager Ashley Lindsay will personally deliver the book to a memorial service in Christchurch at an appropriate date time yet to be determined.  

"The condolence book is a simple way for Clarence residents to demonstrate their sympathies for a community that has been so heavily impacted by these tragic events," Cr Simmons said.  



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