Gathering devotees facing long delays to hill festival
The thousands of peple making their way to The Gathering today could face long delays in getting to the site at Canaan Downs on Takaka Hill.
Gathering spokeswoman Alison Green said the gates to the 48-hour dance party opened at noon today, and not before. A traffic jam caused by a bus breaking down yesterday highlighted the narrowness of the access road and the problems caused by even the slightest delay.
Constable Mike Parfitt of Motueka police said there were usually problems on the narrow road, because there was no room to pass and very few places where vehicles could turn. "All it takes is one vehicle coming to a halt or breaking down and it creates a blocked road."
Mr Parfitt said three police officers would be stationed at the Canaan Road turnoff from State Highway 6. The stream of cars going in would be stopped every hour to regulate the traffic flow.
Ms Green said organisers would be "playing it by ear" as to when outgoing traffic would be allowed to leave, but they would be able to get vehicles out in the event of an emergency. It would be very difficult to reverse the traffic flow, and people wanting to get out would have to wait a long time before they could do so, she said.
Detective Derek Milne of Motueka police confirmed that police would be on the lookout for drugs at The Gathering. He would not confirm the extent of the police presence at the event, but said police would follow "the usual steps" if they learned of anyone taking or selling drugs. People would be taken off the site if they were found with drugs, he said.
Mr Milne commended The Gathering organisers on their "responsible" attitude towards drugs. He said there was a perception that dance culture was linked with the use of recreational drugs such as LSD, ecstasy and cannabis, especially at an event of this size.
Ms Green said that while the organisers did not condone drug use, they accepted that people might choose to indulge, and there would be physical and mental health facilities available for this reason.
Auckland arrest follows ticket fraud
Auckland police today arrested a man for selling forged Gathering tickets after organisers expressed concerns over the number of fake tickets in circulation.
Detective Constable Owen Key, of Auckland police's fraud squad, said a 24-year-old English tourist had been arrested and charged with passing on a forged document. He said the man was not the counterfeiter. Police were continuing their inquiries to find the forgers.
The publicity coordinator for the dance party, Alison Green, said fake Gathering tickets would not be accepted by staff. Anyone using them to try to get access to the event would be turned away and could face criminal prosecution.
However she said Everyman Records, in Hardy Street, Nelson, had a small supply of authentic Gathering tickets which it was selling to people who had unwittingly bought forged tickets.