Kingi threatens to take party north

Nelson Mail, 1 January 2001

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Thousands of revellers partied until the sun rose over Takaka Hill this morning at what could be the last Gathering dance party in the South Island.

An angry Murray Kingi, the event's organiser, said the Gathering had received very little support from the Nelson and Tasman councils and local businesses.

Mr Kingi said it was probably the last time the $2 million event would be held in Takaka as he was "seriously" considering moving it to the North Island. He said he was also considering increasing it in size to 30,000 people.

"I'm angry that it has been so hard and it does not have to be. I would like to keep it here but I want more help and more cooperation. I just wish the business community and councils would give us a helping hand, give us a break."

He said overly strict resource conditions and difficulty in hiring equipment were some of the problems he had faced. He said it would be easier and cheaper to hold the party in the North Island, possibly near Auckland.

The Gathering continues until midday on Wednesday.

About 13,000 people have packed the new site for the Gathering, New Zealand's largest dance party, for the 72-hour event. The grassy terraces of the farmland site at the base of the Takaka Hill have been transformed into a small well-serviced town with a huge camping area, 70 food and clothing stalls and seven different dance zones.

The party started at midday yesterday when organiser Murray Kingi led thousands of walking revellers from the campground 2km up a narrow and winding road to a natural amphitheatre where the party is held.

In his large four-wheel-drive vehicle with the licence plate Gather, Mr Kingi appeared around the final corner like a messiah leading his people. Then, after 12 hours of raving to the pulsating beat of 150 different DJs, the mostly 20-something crowd saw in the new year with a $10,000 fireworks display and a spectacular technicolour light show. The hypnotic beat of the electronic music pumped out so loudly into the cool damp night that nearby portaloos shook and the pilot of a landing helicopter felt the vibrations.

It rained for much of yesterday but cleared about 8pm, staying fine for the rest of the night. Most of the ravers were dressed in the latest street fashion and hailed from Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, dispelling a common perception that the Gathering attracts mostly alternative lifestylers or hippies. Cellphones, scooters, brightly-coloured hair and brand name clothing were common accessories. Many were professional people taking a break from their everyday lives and office jobs. The most noticeable aspect of the event was that it was alcohol-free which made for a friendly, relaxed and incident-free evening.

It is the first time the Gathering, in its fifth year, has been held at this site, after moving from its previous site at Canaan Downs on top of Takaka hill. Most Gatherers approved of the new site, praising its easy access, warmer climate and river setting. However some said the distance between the campground and dance zones was inconvenient. Many said it was the best organised of all the Gathering parties. There were none of the traffic problems which have marred previous Gatherings.


Caption: Photo MARTIN DE RUYTER 408 Dancers pack into the trance zone. Photo MARTIN DE RUYTER Ruth Pond of Palmerston North dances through the night. Photo MARTIN DE RUYTER Some of the 13-000- strong Gathering crowd see in the new year.

Nelson Mail, 1 January 2001

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