Motueka wants to keep the Gathering

Nelson Mail, 6 January 1998

Motueka businesses have sprung to the defence of the Gathering dance party, urging organisers to keep it in the region because of the benefits it brings.

The size of the event this year, on the remote Canaan Downs on top of Takaka Hill, has prompted organisers to propose shifting the mass dance party to a more accessible venue. At the height of the traffic congestion on the hill last week, Sergeant Jim Burrows of Motueka police said he hoped to see the venue changed, "preferably to somewhere in the North Island".

While Mr Burrows today promised his comment was tongue-in-cheek, Motueka Mainstreet Committee coordinator Shirley Frater reacted to it with a call for the Gathering to stay in the Motueka region. If it was shifted it would be a huge loss for local businesses, especially in Motueka, Mrs Frater said.

More than 8,000 partygoers went to the 48-hour event, centred around New Year's Eve. Mrs Frater said most of those would have spent at least $10 in Motueka before or after the party making the Gathering a profitable event for the region. "Businesses service the site, get the people there, offer fuel and food, all sorts of things," she said.

Mr Burrows said police would be opposed to staging the Gathering on top of the hill again because of the traffic problems on the main road and the narrow Canaan Rd. Mrs Frater said logistical pproblems such as that could be worked out and if it proved difficult then the event could possibly be moved within the region. "To have 8,000 people come to the region has got to be good, especially young people - they are the ones that come back," she said.

Meanwhile, one of the Gathering's four organisers, Jose Cachemaille, said yesterday the final packup of the site would be finished by today and had gone smoothly with no real problems. It would be at least a month before it was clear whether the event had broken even or made any money, she said. "We have to wait for all the bills to come in but we're really not sure how it has gone financially so far. It went over budget, that's for sure," she said.

Last minute widening of Canaan Downs Rd to get a large equipment truck into the site was one unexpected cost.

Hayley Brock, Nelson Mail, 6 January 1998

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