Gathering dance party may go north

Nelson Mail, 20 February 2002

Click image for larger version

The financially troubled Gathering may be taken north because organiser Murray Kingi says the South Island is not big enough for three major New Year dance parties.

Mr Kingi said he was "seriously considering" moving the event to the North Island after the latest Gathering lost more than $100,000, compounding its earlier losses.

He wanted the event to remain in Golden Bay, but his hand was being forced. It didn't look like the other parties were going away, he said.

Mr Kingi first threatened to take the party to the North Island after the Gathering in 2001 -- G1 -- lost $300,000. This year's Gathering, G2, drove his organisation deeper into the red.

"The initial accounts haven't been finalised ... I cannot say (how much the loss is), it is more than $100,000, but not much over," he said.

Mr Kingi still hoped the event would trade its way out of debt, but would need the permission of creditors to continue.

Gathering organisers are moving out of their office in the Artery building in New St, Nelson, and Mr Kingi will work from home until a decision on the event's future is made.

G2 only attracted around half of the 12,000 people organisers had hoped for. Rival dance party Vision, also in Golden Bay, attracted nearly 2000 people in its second year, while the first Alpine Unity party outside Christchurch attracted about 3000 people.

Mr Kingi said there was not enough realistic support to keep the Gathering in Golden Bay and there were "too many inequalities in what one party had to have and what another could get away with".

However, he added: "I am not going to bad mouth Vision. Vision is an incredibly good party for what it is."

Tasman district councillor Paul Sangster said he would be disappointed if the Gathering left Golden Bay. He and the council supported the event and had put in a "massive" amount of work to find the right spot for it.

Mr Kingi needed to sort out the financial side of the event and people would be willing to help, Cr Sangster said.

Mr Kingi said the Gathering approached the council for help with rubbish but was turned down. He had not approached the council since.

However, Cr Sangster said TDC had tried to get companies to help with the Gathering but they were not willing because of its debt.

"For the last two years we've had a lot of comment coming through council of bills not being paid."

The budget for G2 was around $760,000, about half the previous year's $1.44 million, but the Gathering's coffers ran dry around Christmas time, Mr Kingi said.

Some contractors were left out of pocket, including Duncan Eddy from Dunedin's Environment Centre, who claimed the Gathering recycling scheme was put on the back burner and his recycling workers were told they "were just rubbish collectors".

He said he was owed $800 and up to six workers were owed $160 each. They had tried to collect it but were told to come back later.

Mr Kingi said Mr Eddy was only paid half his money because he did not complete the job.

"I am disappointed, definitely, because this was our year to make good on our attempt to pay back what we lost (in previous years)."

Mr Kingi said he had been "lying low" since the beginning of the year because "of threats of violence from the rough element of unpaid creditors".

Dave Williams, Nelson Mail, 20 February 2002

Page last updated: