Millennium price hikes hit the Gathering

Nelson Mail, 9 April 1999

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Tickets to this year's New Year's Eve dance party the Gathering will almost double in price because of "ridiculous" millennium price hikes, organisers say. Increases in the cost of hiring equipment for the Nelson-based event will mean ticket prices will jump from $65 to between $80 and $100.

Co-organiser Murray Kingi said increasing the price of the tickets was the only way the 48-hour dance party could go ahead, as suppliers were charging up to three times more than last year for equipment such as generators and sound systems.

"It's ridiculous," Mr Kingi said. "It's just another New Year's Eve, but everyone is jumping on the bandwagon to make money out of the millennium."

Mr Kingi said he had booked 14 generators for the 1999 Gathering two years ago, for which he was required to pay a $10,000 deposit. "Everybody wants this type of equipment for the year 2000."

Christchurch sound hire company Redd Acoustics, which has been hiring equipment to the Gathering for four years, said it would be raising its prices for the millennium. Managing director Terry Molloy said he did not want to "sting" the event for more money, but his company faced a lot of added costs.

Finding casual workers to set up the equipment was proving difficult, and they were asking higher fees, he said. "A lot of them are being head-hunted by companies in London just for that one night."

However, Hirequip party event manager Trevor Tuffnell said he was "100 percent against" raising prices for the millennium. "It is immoral, and if anyone from any of our shops tries it they will be facing the door. There is no need to raise prices just because of a stupid date."

Mr Kingi said suppliers were also demanding payment up front in the wake of the Sweetwaters fiasco earlier this year. He said he did not blame the suppliers, but hoped they would have faith in the Gathering's organisers, given their history of paying bills on time.

In the past, organisers had financed the entire event from ticket sales, he said. This year they would hold fundraising parties throughout the country to build up a financial base.

Mr Kingi said last year's event, which attracted more than 9000 people, managed to break even, and he expected the same result this year. Making a profit was secondary to the aim of the Gathering, which was to put on a "non-alcohol, non-violent party in a safe environment with a really good feeling". He said tickets for the millennium Gathering would be limited to about 6000 to make it a "smaller, easier, tighter event".

Mr Kingi said a new site was also being considered. While Canaan Downs on the top of Takaka Hill was an "awesome" place to hold the event, road access was a major problem. On the upside, the 1999 Gathering could be the only Y2K-compliant party in the world, he said. "We are not reliant on any outside sources for anything. If the rest of the world goes to pot, we will still be able to keep partying."

Bess Manson, Nelson Mail, 9 April 1999

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