Behind the Scenes at SeePort Festival

Feb 7 / 4 min read / Sarah

I Want Orange's event production team have been running SeePort Festival for five years. It’s the one time of the year the public is invited to explore and learn about the Ports of Auckland.


By Sarah Ritchie, I Want Orange Marketing & Digital Specialist

Orange’s talented marketing services team collaborate with our clients to create the electric strategy, creative, content and social media that drives the experiences we love to create.

Since this means that they work on projects months or more in advance, we sent their newest recruit, Sarah Ritchie, along to Ports of Auckland SeePort Festival to experience the incredible work of our event production team on the final product. She took a break from her work on projects including wintery National Fieldays to report her experiences working operations at the summer’s leading family festival.

What goes on behind the scenes at a festival as big as SeePort? As I found out, an awful lot.

Orange has been running SeePort Festival for five years. It’s the one time of the year the public is invited to explore and learn about the Ports of Auckland. It’s full-on, with an action-packed timetable of events involving big New Zealand navy ships, air force, rescue and police helicopters, simulators, the Auckland Symphony Orchestra, a pyrotechnics and laser show and much more.

Seeport Festival
People securing their seats early for the Sunset Symphony & Fireworks display.

I’ve only recently joined the Orange team but I’m not completely new to the events scene. I’ve worked as a promo girl, a gig photographer and videographer, covered live social at events and I’ve attended plenty of festivals in NZ and some of the really big ones in Europe. So, I thought I had a pretty good grasp on the whole festival game, as a worker and an attendee, when I donned my SeePort bucket hat, hi-vis vest and white polo crew t-shirt. But as it turns out, there is so much more going on behind the scenes than I had previously experienced.

It’s a big job.

We’re talking over 16 hours a day big. Sure, we have shifts. Sure, the gates open at 9am, close at 6pm, but the work starts and continues for much longer than that. It is essential you have a good, hardworking team by your side who knows what to do and how to get things done efficiently, all with a smile on their face. I was very impressed with the Orange event production team, some of them had been working nonstop for weeks and were lacking sleep, but did you see them complaining? Hardly, only when they were hungry, but always with a laugh, “Welcome to the events life!”. I was completely knackered after three days working outside, melting in the 28 degrees Auckland sun, but these guys had another day and a half of pack down to go!

Seeport Festival
The New Zealand Fire Service demonstrating the Jaws of Life.

You never know what’s going to happen,

so it’s important to have someone with a lot of experience managing your event. From lost children, helicopters coming and going, food vendors running out of stock, juggling multiple attractions and working with the public can be unpredictable. Luckily for us, we have Colin Ennor our event Director, who has just achieved his 10-year milestone at orange, directing the event. It’s all smooth sailing when he’s around. His work is enabled by working with the best: our superstar senior event coordinator Karen Aguinaldo is a force all by herself, mixing top drawer empathetic interpersonal skills with being across every detail.

Seeport Festival
The Auckland Westpac Helicopter Trust rescue demonstration, featuring our logistics coordinator, James, being saved from the Hauraki Gulf.

It’s rewarding.

Well done to all the PoA staff who gave up their weekend to come down and be the face of the Ports… you are the real heroes. You could see they absolutely loved interacting with the public who, in turn, were incredibly eager to learn all about and experience what goes on beyond the iconic red fence. It’s this real life, emotional connection customers experience with a brand and its people that make events and experiential marketing so rewarding. I’m sure the majority of Aucklander’s and out of towners who came down for a great day out left with a genuine, positive connection towards PoA and the work that they do.

Seeport Festival
Kids (and adults) cooling off in the water mist.

It’s fun!

All the long, sticky sunscreened hours were worth it because of the experiences I got in return. I was lucky enough to tick one off the bucket list when Colin surprised the team with a helicopter ride over Auckland city! I could not wipe the grin off my face all afternoon. It was really enjoyable spending time with my workmate out of the office, hooning around the venue in golf carts, testing out the carnival rides and electric bikes, then finally, appreciating a well deserved, icy cold cider with the Orange and PoA crew once we shut the gates for the final time. Bliss!

SeePort Festival
Rounding up Day 2: The Auckland Symphony Orchestra complete with an impressive pyrotechnics and laser show.

So that’s my first SeePort done and dusted! I’m looking forward to seeing what exciting event I’ll be helping out with next, once I’ve given my feet a rest! As for the rest of our tireless event warriors, they are already on to the next one… Gore for Southern Fieldays!

If you’re looking to run an event to connect with your customers, give us a call or come in for a coffee and a chat anytime.

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