Gathering crew ready to move on to site

Nelson Mail, 19 December 2001

Click image for larger version

In an office above the Artery, a small crew is planning to assemble a town the size of Greymouth.

However, Greymouth is a world away for the 10,000 people who are expected for the sixth New Year's Gathering dance party, to be held in the Cobb Valley in Golden Bay.

More than 160 New Zealand and international music acts in eight dance zones including a new "hard house" zone will be supported by 130 toilets, three Eftpos machines at the "G-Bank", 130 security people, and Telecom and Vodaphone cellphone towers.

Unlike Greymouth there will be no pubs at what is an alcohol-free event.

Thirty-five stall holders compared with 70 last year will offer everything from fish and chips to sushi, donuts, kebabs and espresso coffee. The equipment goes in next week and after the last punter leaves it will take one month to clean up.

This year's Gathering has a budget of about $1 million and will bring in between $3 million and $5 million to the local economy, organisers estimate.

Tickets for the three-day party cost $160 and sales were "on a par with last year if not more", marketing manager Danny O'Donnell said. This year the Gathering (a limited liability company) is running its own ticketing after it ran into trouble last year with the company doing it.

The Gathering advertised on television for the first time this year. Mr O'Donnell said it was aimed at stretching the market and getting more families to come along.

Last year's Gathering attracted a lot of media attention over drug use at the party. An informal Nelson Mail poll found that 93 out of 100 people at the Gathering admitted taking some type of illegal drug at the party.

Mr O'Donnell is adamant people mainly go to dance, but there were those that took drugs. "We don't condone it but we are realistic that people do it."

Sergeant Arthur Clarence of the Takaka police said other priorities over the holiday period precluded a greater police presence on the site.

The St John's ambulance will provide 24 hour coverage at two sites, near the dance zones and at the camp site and staff will use four-wheeled motorcycles to get around.

St John's Ambulance district manager Hank Bader said that last year the service tended up to 600 people. "Most had things like sunburn, lacerations and abrasions. Pretty minor stuff you would get with the terrain."

There was criticism last year of the long walk from the campground to the dance zones but Mr O'Donnell said the distance ensured people could get away from the noise to rest.

There will be shuttle buses running the trip this year for a small fee.

The Gathering switched from Canaan Downs to the site in Cobb Valley on the farm of David and Elva Harwood last year.

They are looking forward to their second Gathering. "The lead up to it was really quite fun. There were streams of traffic and they were tenting and camping wherever there was a spare blade of grass," Mrs Harwood said. There was a good festive air about the gatherers and there were no problems at all, she said.

They took Mr Harwood's 93-year-old mother in to see the Gathering. She had seen the area during the Depression when there were gold mining tents there.


Caption: Danny O'Donnell, sales going well

Dave Williams, Nelson Mail, 19 December 2001

Page last updated: