New Year dance parties at odds

Nelson Mail, 10 November 2000

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Love, peace and harmony have turned sour as the organisers of two New Year's Eve dance parties planned for Golden Bay battle it out.

The Gathering and the Vision Party are both promoting community, friendship and cooperation, yet the two camps are having difficulty working together. Gathering organisers this week accused Vision Party organisers of asking for money in exchange for changing the Vision Party's dates to avoid a clash.

In a letter to the Nelson Mail yesterday, Gathering organiser Murray Kingi said Vision Party organiser Richard Lochner visited his office recently "offering to change the dates of his party in exchange for a donation of 10 percent of our budget".

"There are words for such behaviour, and they do not sit easily beside the other principles of community (Mr Lochner) so readily invokes."

Mr Lochner today denied Mr Kingi's claim that he had tried to extort money from the Gathering. Mr Lochner said he used the offer as an example of what other organisations did to support non-profit events like the Vision Party, which was managed by a charitable trust that supported community development.

"It was just an example. This is what private companies like Coca-Cola do - give 10 percent of profits to charity.

"I said, 'Hey, Murray, I've talked to my lawyer and I know it could sound like extortion, but it's not'. Now he's gone and turned it around."

The feud between the dance parties arose after Mr Kingi last week suggested that the Vision Party be held at a different time than the Gathering. Both events are due to start on December 31, with the Vision Party ending on January 2 and the Gathering finishing on January 3. Their respective sites are 20km apart. The two events are expected to attract up to 20,000 extra people to Golden Bay at New Year. Mr Kingi said the region would not be able to cope.

Mr Lochner said today he was not prepared to change the dates of the Vision Party unless it was worth his while. "New Year is when the most people are here. The Gathering has no right to pressure us into moving. I'm not the inventor of New Year's parties and neither is Murray."

Mr Lochner said despite the setbacks, he still wanted to work with the Gathering to create a positive outcome for Golden Bay.

Meanwhile, about 7000 of the 15,000 tickets to this year's Gathering, costing $160 each, have already sold. The 2000 tickets to the Vision Party, which were yet to go on sale, would cost $65 each.

Mr Kingi could not be contacted for comment today.

Nelson Mail, 10 November 2000

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