Survey of Gathering drug use doubtful - organiser

Evening Post, 6 January 2001

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The Gathering does not condone drugs and will continue to work with police against drug use, says event organiser Murray Kingi.

Mr Kingi criticised a Nelson Mail survey, which said 93 out of 100 "gatherers" surveyed admitted taking some type of illegal drug at the 72-hour dance party at Upper Takaka in Golden Bay.

"The survey from which the figures were drawn was unofficial, haphazard and biased, conducted by members of the press."

The survey was conducted by two Nelson Mail reporters, who spent four days at the Gathering. They interviewed 100 people as part of the survey, but also talked to other partygoers.

They reported that some drugs seemed easy to come by at the party, with at least two people openly selling cannabis. Despite this, relatively few people got their drugs on site.

They asked people what sort of drugs, if any, they had taken, where they had got them from, and why they used drugs.

The drug users had a variety of backgrounds, occupations and ages.

Mr Kingi said the Gathering offered a "unique and comprehensive range of services and support" to protect partygoers.

But ultimately, organisers had no jurisdiction over the choices of those people at the alcohol-free event.

"We do not and never have condoned drug use. We have always worked closely with the police, and will continue to do so in the future," he said.

Mr Kingi has previously said anyone caught selling or using drugs would be harshly dealt with, but to his knowledge no one had been caught. - NZPA


Caption: DANCING HARD - Thousands of dancers converge on the main dance zone at this year's Gathering at Upper Takaka. A survey of 100 gatherers revealed 93 had taken some type of illegal drug. Picture: NELSON MAIL Supplied by New Zealand Press Association

Evening Post, 6 January 2001

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