How the Major Events Management Act 2007 (MEMA) protects declared major events

The Major Events Management Act 2007 (MEMA) provides certain protections for major events of international significance that take place, at least in part, in New Zealand. It prohibits ambush marketing, ticket scalping and pitch invasion at declared major events.

About the MEMA

The Major Events Management Act 2007 (MEMA) protects declared major events from ambush marketing, ticket scalping and pitch invasion. By seeking to prevent unauthorised commercial exploitation of declared major events at the expense of major event organisers and their sponsors, the MEMA contributes to protecting the rights of those who invest in major events and don’t want others to free-ride on their investments and trade off the goodwill and publicity surrounding an event.

Major Event Management Act 2007(external link)

What protections the MEMA provides

The MEMA provides the following protections to declared major events:

  • Ambush marketing by association: no person may, during a major event’s protection period, make any representation in a way likely to suggest to a reasonable person that there is an association between the major event and goods or services; or a brand of goods or services; or a person who provides goods or services. There are some exceptions to this prohibition, including where the representation or association is authorised by the major event organiser.
  • Ambush marketing by intrusion: unless authorised by the major event organiser, no person may advertise or engage in street trading in declared clean zones during declared clean periods. The advertising prohibition extends to advertising that is clearly visible from a clean zone and advertising in declared clean transport routes (if any).  The street trading restriction also applies to those outside a clean zone engaging with people in the clean zone. Exceptions to these prohibitions include “business as usual” activities.
  • Ticket scalping: unless authorised by the major event organiser, no person may sell or trade a ticket to a major event activity for more than the original sale price of that ticket.
  • Pitch invasion: it is an offence to go onto the playing surface, without authority, at a major event that is a sporting event; and/or to propel any object onto the playing surface at such event. 

Businesses can continue their ordinary activities

Even though there are some restrictions on what they can do, businesses can continue their ordinary activities and still benefit from a major event. Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to attend major events, which is likely to have a positive impact on retail and other sectors.

Protection period

Ambush marketing by association restrictions under the MEMA only apply during a specific period, known as the protection period, to be declared by Order in Council for each major event. The protection period typically starts when a major event is declared and ends one month after the end of the major event.

Major event words and emblems

A representation may be presumed to be in breach of the MEMA if it includes a declared major event emblem or word, or if it so closely resembles a major event emblem or word as to be likely to deceive or confuse a reasonable person (for example, using the words but putting them in a different order). This applies even if the representation is qualified by words like “unauthorised” or “unofficial”.

However, it should not be assumed a representation is ‘safe’ just because major events words and emblems are not used, as a representation can create an association with a major event without using those words and emblems.

Clean zones and transport routes

To assist in preventing ambush marketing during a declared major event, clean zones and clean transport routes which will operate during clean periods can be declared under the MEMA.

Clean zones may be declared around the major event venues, with clean transport routes leading to the venues.

Clean zones and clean transport routes only apply during declared clean periods, which will typically be event day/s and at times before and after the major event activity that are reasonable in the circumstances (such as the day before).

During a clean period, unauthorised advertising — unless it is by an existing business honestly carrying out its ordinary activities — is prohibited within the clean zones, anywhere clearly visible from within the clean zones and along the clean transport routes.

Street trading within clean zones is prohibited during clean periods, unless authorised by the event organiser. This does not apply to someone operating an existing business out of its existing permanent premises.

MEMA enforcement

The MEMA includes civil and criminal enforcement measures to ensure the efficient and effective enforcement of MEMA protections. It also makes provision for enforcement officers to be appointed to identify MEMA breaches, monitor the declared clean zones and address immediate incidents of ambush marketing as they may occur.

Enforcement officers are empowered under the Act to:

  • issue formal warnings to offenders and ambush marketers
  • seize offending material, for example scalped tickets, or material such as flags or t-shirts being sold in the clean zone without authorisation
  • obscure offending material, for example for identified breaches on billboards or signs in the clean zone or visible from the clean zone.

Guide to the MEMA

For business wanting to know how to comply with the MEMA, there is practical advice in our Guide to the Major Events Management Act 2007.

A Guide to the Major Events Management Act 2007 [PDF, 3.8 MB]

The Guide includes useful illustrations showing activities that meet or don’t meet the requirements of the Act. As it is not possible to address every situation in the Guide, these examples are intended to provide general guidance only.

If you have any concerns about the application of the MEMA in a particular situation, please seek legal advice.

Current major events declared under the MEMA

No current MEMA events.