Takaka Hill shambles requires some action

Letter to the Editor, Nelson Mail

Nelson Mail - 4 January 2000

Sir, the shambles on Takaka Hill with The Gathering traffic, in which some people were held up for over 5 hours, surely must not be allowed to happen next year for the fourth year in a row.

Anyone with common sense would have opened the road into Canaan at midnight, not midday.

Ross McDonald, Takaka, December 31. Nelson Mail, 4 January 2000

The Gathering replies:

Locals wishing to travel over Takaka Hill in either direction need only inform the traffic police who manage the queue of Gathering traffic. They will then be escorted over the hill on the right-hand side of the road, as they are every year.

Mr McDonald also chooses to forget in his letter that last year there were no traffic problems. We solved the problem last year by opening the gates a day early. The difference between this year and last is that last year 4,000 people arrived on the 30th, and 4,000 on the 31st. This year, 9,000 Gatherers chose to arrive on the 30th, something over which we had no control. We are investigating the possibility of a two-tier entry system next year, with the date of entry being determined by the type of ticket purchased.

His suggestion that we open the gates at midnight is unfortunately unworkable. As Gatherers who arrived onsite after dark this year discovered, it is not easy to find a camping spot and put up one's tent in the dark. As camping space is of primary importance at The Gathering venue, and the efficient positioning of tents will be a priority next year (whichever venue we use), it is important that the majority of Gatherers arrive onsite during the hours of daylight. However, it may be useful for us to examine the possibility of a dawn opening of the gates next year, to maximise the hours of daylight that can be utilised.

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