Farewelling festival fun after 15 years

    Dedicated ILT Kidzone Festival team member Nick Round-Turner will say farewell from his position after 15 years’ service at the festival. He is pictured with his favourite ride, the merry-go-round.

    FOR the past 15 years, Nick Round-Turner has been a kind of MacGyver for the ILT Kidzone festival.

    If anything breaks during the event, a call is put out over the radio and Mr Round-Turner suddenly appears sporting his blue overalls and builder’s belt.

    No problem is too big or too small for him.

    However, at 75 years, he has decided 2021 will be his final year at the event.

    “I will be a bit reluctant to let it go… but I have to realise it is time to do that.”

    An English native, Mr Round-Turner has been living in New Zealand for more than 50 years.

    He is a charismatic and popular character in Southland, being involved with the musical theatre scene and a loyal employee of firstly Venture Southland then Great South since its inception.

    His actual job title is information officer, providing geographic information system analysis and data – but, he is the kind of hands-on guy who does everything around Great South’s facilities and events.

    Being a people person, it was a natural pathway for him to become one of the key staff at the festival.

    Since the first festival, the rides the children enjoyed so much, were his focus – ensuring the equipment worked safely and smoothly.

    He said it was a demanding and physical job and, after suffering a hip injury last year, he thought it was time to have a succession plan.

    This year’s event held mixed emotions for him.

    While he would be relieved to pass over the responsibility, he would miss the excitement of the children.

    Every year, he tries to be at the door when the gates open to watch the happy faces of attendees entering the event.

    “That’s what it does for me. It is the sheer excitement, the thrill and the buzz that goes on when the crowds come in.”

    One of the biggest challenges he had faced was during one of the first events when vandals entered the festival site at night and took the plug out of the pool.

    When he arrived the next day, there was water everywhere, he said.

    He did not have time to order a new piece, so he built a plug made of wood in his workshop.

    ‘‘Yeah… it was a bit like MacGyver. That was probably the worst [problem] we had with the equipment ever.”

    Mr Round-Turner was looking forward to the new venue this year Girls’ High School.

    “I think the new location will work fine… In some ways it will be easier because it is a flat site compared to [James] Hargest [College].”

    Despite his retirement, he said he would still probably be involved as a consultant as he really loved the event.

    “I had the opportunity to work with so many different people. It is just amazing the amount of commitment from our staff and all volunteers.

    “It is pretty much a mix of emotion. Hard to let go but recognising the need to do so.”

    Mr Round-Turner would continue to work at Great South first step of his retirement process, he said.

    “I feel I’ve done my dash I should resign completely… I’m 75 or something like that but I can’t see the point of retiring if you still enjoy the work.

    “I’m thinking perhaps cutting back time, maybe four days instead of five days a week, to start to kind of slow down.”

    • ILT Kidzone Festival, July 14-19, Southland Girls’ High School, Tweed St, Invercargill. Tickets are $18 per person and can be bought at www.iltkidzone.co.nz.