7 Apr 2015

Low Camp Gallipoli ticket sales a 'genuine mystery'

5:58 am on 7 April 2015

Organisers of an overnight camp in Auckland commemorating the Anzac Centenary are at a loss to explain why it proved so unpopular here.

ANZAC Day celebrations in Wellington last year

ANZAC Day celebrations in Wellington last year Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

It was billed as a one-in-a-lifetime experience to remember the sacrifices New Zealand made at Gallipoli.

But with just over 100 tickets sold out of the many thousands organisers had hoped for, Camp Gallipoli at Ellerslie Racecourse in Auckland has been axed.

The event had the backing of the Returned and Services Association (RSA) as well as high-profile New Zealanders like Sir Richard Hadlee, Sir Graham Henry, Annabel Langbein and Nigel Latta.

Organisers say tickets have quickly sold for the same event in Australia's major cities, and they're at a loss to explain what went wrong in this country.

The event's website said the Auckland event has been cancelled with regret.

A video promotion of the cancelled event

The event's chief executive Chris Fox said his foundation was at a genuine loss to explain why it proved so unpopular here.

"Unfortunately it just wasn't picked up as we would've liked and we have a duty of care to ensure we act in the best interests of the foundation.

"Purely because of the poor ticket sales we were forced to cancel the event," he said.

Mr Fox said 15,000 people are expected in Sydney, up to 12,000 in Melbourne and 6,000 in Adelaide.

He said organisers were expecting about 8,000 tickets to be sold for the April 24 Auckland event at Ellerslie Racecourse.

It was supposed give New Zealanders "an opportunity to sleep under the stars just like the Anzac soldiers did 100 years ago" and was to have its own ceremonies.

Mr Fox said the foundation sought advice about the local market and made sure it had New Zealand input.

"I think we hit the market later than we probably should have, we were probably poorly advised there and I think there was a fair amount of fervor around the Cricket World Cup.

"I think people just thought 'I'll get to that eventually, she'll be right' but unfortunately when you're running events of this scale you have to have the thing all put in stone well before the 25th and 24th."

Ticket buyers on the event's Facebook page have been asking questions about their travel costs.

Mr Fox said travel costs to Auckland will be reimbursed.

"We don't want anyone out of pocket. We're disappointed as a foundation that it hasn't been picked up but we don't want anyone disadvantaged who was good enough to acquire tickets," he said.

RSA national president, BJ Clark, said the push for the event started too late, and people had been distracted by other Anzac events for 2015. He hoped the event would return next year.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs