Drug poll 'haphazard'

Nelson Mail, 5 January 2001

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The Gathering does not condone drugs and will continue to work with police in the future against drug use, according to 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.

"The survey from which the figures were drawn was unofficial, haphazard and biased, conducted by members of the press. Its intention was presumably to elicit dubious statistics that could confirm existing opinions about drug use at the Gathering," he said.

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 many other partygoers.

Some drugs appeared 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, the survey revealed.

The survey 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 came from a variety of backgrounds, occupations and a wide age range.

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.

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

He drew attention to the comparison made by the Nelson Mail of conduct at the Gathering and other "alcohol-fuelled" events in the region.

"This reflects the effectiveness of our health and safety team and harm reduction policy," 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.

Nelson Mail, 5 January 2001

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