Keen to keep Gathering

Nelson Mail, 4 January 2001

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The Tasman District Council wants to keep the Gathering in Takaka and is keen to talk with the event's organisers to stop them moving the party north, Tasman Mayor John Hurley says.

Gathering chief executive Murray Kingi has threatened to move the event to the North Island, possibly Auckland, due to what he says is a lack of support from the Tasman and Nelson councils and overly strict resource consent conditions.

Nelson Mayor Paul Matheson said today he did not know what Mr Kingi was talking about as he had never made a formal approach to the city council for help.

"He can always put his hand up and be counted like everyone else, but you don't get anywhere by slamming us in the nedia. That sort of attitude is useless, especially if we are all in the dark about what he wants," Mr Matheson said.

Mr Kingi also said it would be easier and cheaper to hold the 72-hour rave in the North island than in isolated Golden Bay.

Mr Hurley and Nelson Deputy Mayor Paul Sangster visited the Gathering's Cobb Valley Road site on Tuesday morning the day after Mr Kingi announced his threat.

"It's not my scene but I thought it was very well managed," Mr Hurley said of the festival.

Mr Hurley said the Gathering, which was atttended by 13,000 people and ended yesterday, should stay in the Nelson region.

"We're very supportive of it. It's a good, trouble-free event."

Mr Matheson agreed the Gathering had become an important event for the region through its contribution to increasing visitor numbers and expenditure here.

"It has become a mini icon for the Nelson region which has big benefits. My request to Mr Kingi is, 'please tell us what you want because you've never told us before'," Mr Matheson said.

Mr Kingi said it was becoming too expensive to keep the Gathering in Golden Bay and he wanted the council's support, possibly by lending it equipment, helping with the party's expensive recycling system or by easing up on resource conditions.

Mr Hurley said it was unlikely the council would intervene in the managing of the Gathering or amend its resource conditions to accommodate it, although he was happy to discuss the issue with Mr Kingi.

He dismissed Mr Kingi's concerns that the council was unsupportive or had overly strict coniditions.

There's no problem with resource consent. There's a process to go through and it will be the same wherever he goes in New Zealand. There has to be a plan for safety, sanitisation and other normal things that have to be considered. It's a tortuous process, it's a bloody fag, but there's never been any doubt about the Gathering - it meets the requirements (to get resource consent)."

Nelson Mail, 4 January 2001

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