Trouble-free Gathering breaks even

Police pleased with planning

Nelson Mail 4 January 1999

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The New Year's Gathering, which attracted more than 8,000 people to the top of Takaka Hill, was basically trouble-free and tranquil according to organisers, police and site security officers.

Traffic leaving The Gathering's Canaan Downs site over the weekend joined other drivers in the region with no major problems, said Constable Simon Mapp of Motueka police. Mr Mapp said police were pleased with the planning organisers put into the dance party and the actions of the crowd.

"A couple of minor thefts were reported. Nothing more than you would expect from a crowd of that size."

Alpha Security operations controller Joe Bartle said the incidents during the 48-hour party were no more than would happen in a small New Zealand town.

"There were no surprises at this event, in fact the atmosphere felt more tranquil this year than last, " Mr Bartle said.

Some sixty security staff were employed to monitor traffic, parking, and look after the welfare of partygoers. Ambulances, helicopters, an on-site health centre and drug and alcohol counsellors were also present. Many of those present attributed the trouble-free atmosphere to the strict alcohol ban. All cars entering the site were searched for alcohol and a large quantity was confiscated.

Co-organiser Greg Shaw said ticket-holders were well aware of the ban and, "the alcohol will be disposed with in the manner we see fit". He said it would still take crew up to two weeks to clean up the remote site. "Our next big task is to tidy up. It's a huge job."

Everything supplied at the hilltop site was carted down the dusty 12km Canaan Road, including water, huge power generators, food and the sound system. Seven separate dance zones featured at the event, along with an onsite radio station and oudoor cinema.

Mr Shaw said it was still too early to say whether another Gathering would be held next year. Organisers put 11,000 tickets on sale but only just over 8000 sold. Numbers at the site were boosted by 1000 crew, technicians and DJs.

Mr Shaw said the event had broken even. "We'll be able to pay the bills."

See Editorial page 9

Helen Murdoch, Nelson Mail, 4 January 1999

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