Traffic praised as Gathering winds down

Nelson Mail, 3 January 1998

Motueka police are impressed with the behaviour of traffic leaving the Gathering dance party on the Takaka Hill yesterday. Constable Grant Heney said today traffic choked the main street through Motueka yesterday and thousands of partygoers poured along the coastal highway from the Canaan Downs site but no problems were reported throughout the day.

"For the huge amount of traffic that was on the road yesterday, we are very pleased with the way everyone drove," he said.

The 48-hour festival ended smoothly yesterday afternoon with traffic filing out slowly and organisers were on site today to continue dismantling all the marquees and equipment. They were not able to be contacted this morning but said yesterday they expected it would take several days to pack up.

Danny Fowler, of Motueka's EMT ambulance, said today it was no problem getting access to the isolated site to retrieve ill people.

"I hope that it is able to be held there again because really, there were no difficulties in getting people out when they had to."

Organisers have said the Gathering would not be held on Canaan Downs again because the narrow one-way road caused major problems. During the festival, Mr Fowler said nine people were taken by ambulance to Motueka medical centre and one to Nelson Hospital.

"We spent a lot of time with people once we brought them down, giving them cups of coffee and helping them to get back up to the Gathering if they wanted to and were well enough."

Mr Fowler said the pair of Aucklanders burned after their van caught fire yesterday morning promised ambulance staff that they would go to hospital for treatment after seeing Motueka police.

"It wasn't that they refused to go to the hospital, they were very worried about their van and wanted to sort that out with police first. We didn't dump them at the police station. They wanted to wait there until it opened and we had spent a lot of time with them, trying to help them work out what they wanted to do while giving them cups of coffee."

Their arm, face and hand burns had been treated by the Motueka doctor first. Nelson Hospital accident and emergency staff would not say this morning whether the pair arrived for treatment or not. Mr Heney said the van, which was badly damaged internally, was driven down to the couple yesterday from the Takaka Hill.

Deirdre Mussen, Nelson Mail, 3 January 1998

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