Ravers slower to leave Golden Bay Gathering party

The Dominion, 3 January 1997

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GRAZING sheep made way for raving humans at Canaan Downs on Takaka Hill in Nelson's Golden Bay this week.

The Gathering - a huge 48-hour dance party, ended yesterday. Most of the crowd of about 5000 were in their late teens or early 20s, though a few looked old enough to be Woodstock veterans. Setting up the event was a mammoth undertaking, with 200 crew moving on to the site on Boxing Day.

After New Year's Eve chaos, when cars were bumper-to-bumper the entire way up the rough and narrow eight kilometre access road to the 17 hectare site, traffic was relatively clear. That brought its own problems, and two cars were badly damaged in a low-speed collision on a blind corner. No one was injured.

Detective Senior Sergeant Wayne Stringer of Motueka said concertgoers started leaving the area early yesterday morning. "Everybody learnt their lesson when they went in so they drifted out all day rather than going all at once." Mr Stringer said the event was well planned, with a well-behaved crowd.

Organiser Tim Owens said police were happy for the organisers to provide their own security. "It has been a peaceful event. The atmosphere is utterly positive."

There was an alcohol ban on the event. Mr Owens said using drugs was not encouraged but the organisers could not prevent it. "For us the core of this thing is the dance music. There doesn't seem to be a bunch of drug-crazed loonies."

The Red Cross caravan was kept busy with everything from cuts and burns to one broken foot and plenty of dislocated knees and ankles from dancing in the dark on uneven ground. Red Cross worker Mike Price was full of praise for the event. "Its been fantastic, good crowds. We've had no fights."

Mr Owens said The Gathering appeared to have at least broken even yesterday. He said it would be back for the next two years.

"We are heading for the millennium with this project."

The Dominion, 3 January 1997

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