Thank-you from a Gatherer

I got this email from a Gatherer named David Montgomery the other day, and I liked it so much I asked him if I could post it here. He agreed, so here it is:

Hi Alison,

I have just watched the Gathering documentary. I was there. Watching those dance scenes just bought on such great feelings. That was a magical event. Dancing in the hot sun with the gathering team firing water over everyone… absolutely epic stuff.

I just want to take this chance to thank you and the Gathering team for the wonderful parties you put on over the years. I can`t really thank you enough because I have had some of the best times ever at these events (I went to three – and am 39yrs old  now).

Maybe you could pass this on to the team… “Thank you so much for your hard work and the parties that I will never forget”.

Yours sincerely,
David Montgomery

Thanks David! We really appreciate your thanks!

I was thinking as New Year ticked over a couple of weeks ago that it was exactly ten years since we were up on Takaka Hill seeing in the new millennium and wondering if the skinheads were gonna come and get us – and it’s now 12 years since we filmed The Gathering documentary – so it’s just brilliant that people still watch it and still love it and still feel motivated to say “thanks”.

I think it says a lot about the awesomeness of The Gathering as an event, and about how strongly TheG imprinted itself on our national psyche. Very cool.

To me the most important part of David’s email is the thanks he sends out to The Gathering crew – and it’s why I asked him if I could post it on the blog.

Every one of the hundreds of crew members worked their ass off every year at TheG, for not much (if any) money, and in enormously stressful conditions – and for the most part it was done in style, with smiles, and with complete dedication. Individual crew members didn’t always get thanked for all their hard work, so it’s really nice to have an opportunity to pass on a Gatherer’s thanks to the people who made it all happen.

The ONYAS - finalistA month or so ago I entered The Gathering archives website for the ONYAs web awards. The awards are being organised by the same awesome crew that brings the Webstock web conference to Wellington each year (hi Mike and Tash! You rock!) and this is the first year they’ve done the ONYAs.

The ONYAs celebrate those who design, develop and create New Zealand’s best websites and applications.

They’re awards by the industry, for the industry.

I’m pretty proud of The Gathering archives, and I thought it might do OK in the Best Content (personal) category. On Friday they announced the three finalists, and guess what? We’ve been selected as a finalist! How cool is that?

I’m thrilled to bits, actually.

Firstly because The Gathering was one of the best times in my life, and I’m really pleased that it’s still being remembered, and that this website might get a few more visitors as a result of the ONYAs nomination.

Secondly because I’ve put a lot of effort into the site over the past couple of years and it’s lovely to have that recognised by the industry in which I work.

And thirdly because this is your website – it grows and improves as a result of what you send me – your photos, videos, stories and memories are a big part of the site – and so I see this nomination as a nomination for all of us, and the work we’ve all put in. Thank you!

The judge’s comment was a classic. Check this out:

A multi-media mashup of memoir, fractured histories and anecdotes from a series of events that erased the memories of many that were there. Alison’s site is a public service…

The other two finalists in this category are Jared Gulian for Moon over Martinborough and my dear friend Zef Fugaz for zef[a]media. Those of you who know your Gathering history might remember Zef – he was the assistant producer/BetaSP-Cam/graphics guru for The Gathering documentary 97/98 – and a jolly good one he was too!

It’s a real honour to be nominated for the award, and to be a finalist in such esteemed company. Good luck guys, and may the best website win!

Upgrading the blog

So I just spent most of this afternoon upgrading the blog’s version of WP (which was way out of date), and sorting out other admin stuff.

If you’ve recently subscribed to the blog, you may have disappeared from my list in the process and you’ll have to re-subscribe. Apologies!

Do let me know if you have any problems accessing the blog now it’s been upgraded. I’ve done a quick check and it all looks fine (phew!) but you never know…

Thanks guys!

Hey just a quick note to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone who’s sent in photos, stories and all kinds of other stuff for the website recently.

I haven’t quite got through them all yet, so if you haven’t heard from me yet, don’t despair, I’ll be in touch over the next few days, and your stuff will be going online very soon.

And if you’ve been meaning to send me stuff and haven’t got round to it yet –  SEND IT THROUGH! The more the merrier…

You guys rule. Thanks!

We’re on the radio again!

Radio New Zealand are re-broadcasting their documentary The Gatherers, which first hit the airwaves back in December. I know from our web stats that heaps of you listened in and got inspired to visit The Gathering Archives website and blog, but just in case you missed it the first time around, or want to hear it again, here’s the info…

The Gatherers
Friday 25 January at 7.30pm
National Radio 101FM
or listen live online at

You can also grab the podcast from the Radio New Zealand website at – search on “G”.


The Gathering on the radio!

Radio New Zealand presents The Gatherers on National Radio, Saturday 29 December at 1.06pm – part of Music 101 with Kirsten Johnstone.

I got an email a few weeks ago from Kirsten Johnstone at Radio New Zealand. She’d seen The Gathering archives website and was so inspired by it that she decided it was high time to do a documentary on The Gathering and the Gatherers.

She interviewed me a week or so later, and I put her in touch with a bunch of other Gathering crew and Gatherers. She’s been interviewing them too, and putting together the hour-long documentary.

Here’s how they describe it on the Radio New Zealand website:

1:06 pm The Gatherers

Looking back on a New Years party that everyone seems to have a story about: The Gathering.

Starting in 1996, this three-day event at the top of Takaka Hill near Nelson drew in fifteen thousand people at its peak. Everyone was there to have a good time, contributing to an amazing sense of community spirit along the way.

We recall the crawl up the single-lane dirt road to Caanan Downs, the sound of a dull ‘doof doof’ in the background and the twinkling of glitter up ahead. We reminisce with musicians, organisers and punters about the golden age of dance music in Aotearoa, the freaks and the faeries, the filth, the sun, the rain, and the partying.

There is a new on-line archive of stories and photos celebrating The Gathering, and the original venue will host a dance party again this New Year’s Eve.

They’re broadcasting it on the afternoon of December 29, which is timed to coincide with the start of the Canaan Downs Festival. How cool! They asked me about my expectations for the festival, so it’ll be interesting to see what they include.

Here’s how to listen – on the radio, online, via Sky Digital, Freeview, or afterwards for a week or so as a podcast on demand.

Don’t miss it!

Heads2I’ve added a whole load of fantastic photos of The Gathering G2000, taken by Jonnie Halstead. These are the photos that he exhibited at the Subsonorous exhibition in April-May 2001, and they’re gorgeous!

I have some prints on my wall which I bought at the exhibition – Jonnie’s great at capturing amazing images of people – both in large numbers and individually. He’s happy to do high-quality prints of any of the photos in the collection – just email him at for a quote.

I’ve divided his photos into Daytime and Night – check them out! Thanks heaps, Jonnie, for allowing us to add them to The Gathering archives collection.

Remember those videos I was talking about? Well, they’re all up online now.

We’ve got video from The Gathering 97/98, The Gathering G2000 and The Gathering G2 – and mighty fine it looks too. Thanks a million to Iain for making such high-quality copies for me to put on Google Video.

I suppose my personal favourite is the G2000 Havoc! “shopping trolley” interview, where Mikey and Newsboy took me up to the Domain, put me in a shopping trolley, and wheeled me around for a couple of hours while we chatted about everything Gathering. I could not believe how many people saw that show, and for months (even years) afterwards, if I ever mentioned it, people would go “Oh my God! Was that you??? I remember that episode so well!”

I still don’t quite know how that all happened. I know I wanted to do the interview outdoors, somewhere nice and nature-ish, which is why I suggested the Domain. And I remember Newsboy already had this shopping trolley idea – although I have no clue why – and he was really, really keen on it… so we compromised and did both. As you do. The only tricky thing was that the bumps on the ground as I was wheeled over the grass tended to make my voice go all jigglyjoggly – you can hear it if you listen carefully.

That was such a fun afternoon! Mikey and Jeremy are really really nice guys – I always enjoyed doing Havoc! interviews – and that particular afternoon I reckon we were all really on form.

I seem to remember one or two of the Gathering crew not being particularly happy with that interview – I think they thought it was too silly, or not respectful enough – but I like it. It turned out to be the most memorable interview we ever did – and I think it’s a Very Good Thing to be able to laugh at yourself once in a while…


More videos

Well, a video, anyway…

I’m having a bit of trouble getting the high-res version of The Gathering documentary 97/98 online at Google Video – it took quite a few days to upload – and then it failed… I have no idea why. Rats! I’m trying again now…

So in the meantime, here’s a little news report from the same event – I guess this was probably broadcast on 1 January 1998. Nice! Let’s see how it looks embedded on the page. Hopefully the high-res will look ok. I’ll test it here before I put it on the website.

So my lovely friend Iain (who happens to be a film editor) brought his portable hard drive over to my place tonight. He’s been making me a super high quality version of The Gathering documentary 97/98 – all 11.5GB of it! Crikey!

Those of you who’ve already watched the large-screen version of the doco on Google Video will be aware that the quality leaves something to be desired. It looks OK at the embed-on-my-web-page size, but anything larger than that, and there’s quite a lot of pixellation. Well, Iain has fixed all that.

Viewing it on my laptop it’s very close to being DVD quality. I began the upload-to-Google-Video process a few minutes ago, and if the experience with the lower-quality (much smaller) version is anything to go by, it will probably take a week to upload. Literally!

We shall see.  We shall also see how much loss of quality we get once Google have done whatever it is they do to videos. Hopefully not too much. I’ll link to the new version from the original page on Google, and  I’ll let you know in the blog when it’s up. Woohoo!

And once that’s done, I’ll get started on uploading the other new video I’ve got  – also in super high quality.

Watch this space!

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