Concerns over Gathering
Motueka police have reservations about this year's Gathering dance party on Takaka Hill, with 10,000 people expected at the popular New Year's event.
Though Motueka stands to gain financially, with 10,000 tickets going on sale this year, Senior Sergeant Jim Burrows said he had misgivings. The 48-hour non-alcohol dance party will agin be held at Canaan, which can be reached only by an 8km gravel road from the top of Takaka Hill.
Mr Burrows said access to the remote site was a major problem. Last year, despite organisers' assurances, the flood of partygoers turned local traffic flows into a shambles. Organiser Murray Kingi said resource consent applications had been lodged with the Tasman District Council to develop passing bays along the access road.
"Whether upgrading the road would be sufficient to prevent police opposition will need to be worked through with organisers," Mr Burrows said.
"The availability and use of drugs on site by many of those attending is another issue which will require working through."
Mr Burrows said he was disappointed the organisers had not consulted police before deciding to go ahead with this year's event, and he hoped to meet them shortly. But Mainstreet coordinator Shirley Frater said The Gathering provided an economic boost to the region which was much needed by local retailers. She said that aside frm the drug issue, which they did not support, the event had huge economic benefits for retailers on both sides of the hill.
"The Gathering attracts many people to the region and we support the organisers for that."
Up to 120 DJs and 50 live acts are expected to perform at The Gathering, which last year attracted young people from throughout the country. With another 2000 people expected this year, facilities will be beefed up to meet the demand. Two ambulances will be stationed onsite, and helicopter access is planned.
Another two dance zones will be added and between 80 to 100 security personnel employed. An FM radio station, live theatre and a movie theatre that will screen New Zealand short films will also feature. Tickets, which are expected to cost about $60, will go on sale in October.