Armed police ready to attend New Year festival

Christchurch Press, 23 December 1999

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WELLINGTON - Armed police are ready to attend a New Year dance festival at Takaka, amid rumours that a criminal group is planning to disrupt it.

The Motueka police would not confirm or deny whether armed staff would be on duty at The Gathering, to be held on Takaka Hill, 75km north-west of Nelson. However, specialist armed groups, such as the police armed offenders squad, were part of festival policing strategies, Detective Sergeant Derek Milne said.

The police had for two months been aware of rumours that criminals planned "mass disorder or violence" at the festival, for which about 8500 tickets had been sold. "We have taken the rumours seriously and have put planning and policing strategies in place in response to them," Mr Milne said.

The Gathering, an alcohol-free event, had not required an on-site police presence in the three years it had been held at Takaka Hill, Mr Milne said.

The police were also investigating forged Gathering tickets circulating in the Auckland area. About 100 were thought to have been produced. --NZPA

Christchurch Press, 23 December 1999

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