Police warn of drugs at dance party

Christchurch Press, 31 December 1997

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NELSON -- Motueka police are sure drugs will be at the Takaka Hill New Year's Eve dance party, The Gathering, but are satisfied every measure has been taken to make the event a safe one.

Detective Sergeant Wayne Stringer said police were aware people had used LSD and cannabis at the last Gathering, and realised drugs would be there again this year. "It's on the cards; (with) that sort of music and those sorts of functions there are likely to be drugs." He said drugs would also be present at many pubs and parties the same night.

Sergeant Stringer praised the organisers of The Gathering - considered the highlight of the country's dance music scene - which starts today and will wind up at noon on Friday. Organisers had liaised closely with police, health agencies, and neighbours, he said.

The event was advertised as drug and alcohol-free, and all cars entering the site would be searched for liquor. "I can understand that some parents might be a bit concerned about letting teenagers up there, but all you can do is make it as safe as you possibly can and trust in your kids."

One of the event's four organisers, Grant Smithies, said the organising team had spent months ensuring the event was safe, but drugs were not the main problem. Sunburn and twisted ankles occupied many of the people giving first aid last year.

Mr Smithies said tickets were sold out in Auckland and Christchurch, with just under 1000 left in Nelson. He expected the 9000-capacity event to be a sell-out. No gate sales would be made and people without tickets would be spotted immediately, he said.

Nearly 200 DJs will perform at the event, playing trance, house, dub, hip-hop, and drum and bass music.

Accommodation in the Nelson region was near capacity, with late- arriving visitors sleeping beside the Maitai River on Monday night because they could not find a place to stay.

Motel Association Nelson branch president Neil Thompson said all the motels in the city were booked out this week and backpacker hostel owners said they were having to turn away dozens of people.

The streets of Motueka have also been flooded with tourists this week and the accommodation services of the town are also booked out. --NZPA

Christchurch Press, 31 December 1997

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