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NZ: Rollback of restrictions “too late” for festivals

Festival organisers and promoters in New Zealand say that the government’s rollback of restrictions is “meaningless” at this point in the events calendar.

Prime minister Jacinda Arden earlier today (23 March) announced the removal of vaccine pass requirements, most vaccine mandates, QR code scanning and outdoor gathering limits.

In addition, the limit for indoor gatherings will be doubled, from 100 to 200 people.

The mandate removal and end of the vaccine pass will go into effect from 5 April, while the other changes go into effect from midnight on Friday (25 March).

Splore festival’s John Minty told Stuff he is “bemused” by the timing of the government’s announcement, saying it had come “out of the blue” after months of uncertainty around when festivals could resume.

“It’s sort of like it’s coming out of the blue in a way”

“It hadn’t been indicated that if certain things happen, we would have less restrictions,” Minty continues. “So it’s sort of like it’s coming out of the blue in a way.”

The festival was originally scheduled to happen between 25–27 February at Tāpapakanga Regional Park but was canned after the government announced a move to the ‘red’ traffic light setting.

Minty said Splore organisers would now assess whether they could pull together the festival for late April.

The government’s announcement comes too late for Live Nation-owned Rhythm and Vines, after the traditional New Year’s event was postponed until Easter, and then cancelled for the first time in its 19-year-history.

“It’s a little too late for our events this summer… the heart has been ripped out of the events season,” says Rhythm and Vines co-founder Hamish Pinkham.

“It’s a little too late for our events this summer… the heart has been ripped out of the events season”

The Gisborne festival will celebrate its 20th anniversary at the end of the year instead.

Elsewhere, Auckland-based promoter Brent Eccles is pleased to hear that Covid-19 rules are set to be relaxed but felt the changes were “meaningless” at this point in the events calendar – a month into autumn.

“We don’t have any outdoor shows in winter, obviously, so that they’ve gone to one hundred per cent capacity outdoors for us right now is a bit meaningless,” said Eccles.

“It’s good for summer, because we have got the Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran, and Six60 coming. So that’s good that there are no restrictions there.”

The government’s announcement comes too late for a slate of other festivals including The Other Way (Auckland), Outfields music festival (Auckland), Northern Bass (Northland) and Electric Avenue (Christchurch) – all of which have either been cancelled or postponed.

 


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NZ festivals bring in the new year with huge audiences

New Year’s Eve (NYE) events were held as usual in New Zealand (NZ), with festivals welcoming tens of thousands of people to celebrate without social distancing.

Thanks to strict lockdowns and border closures which have all but eliminated Covid-19 in NZ, residents were able to enjoy a full return to live at mammoth NYE events.

NZ’s largest festival, Live Nation-owned Rhythm and Vines, welcomed 20,000 people to the Gisborne site between 29–31 December where social distancing and mask-wearing was not required.

The 18th edition of the music and camping festival – founded in 2003 by University of Otago friends Hamish Pinkham, Tom Gibson, and Andrew Witters – delivered sets from artists including Benee, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Broods, The Beths and Netsky. Single-day festival passes started from NZ$125.

Elsewhere, Rhythm & Alps celebrated its 10th anniversary by inviting 10,000 people to Wanaka, a resort town on NZ’s South Island, for three days of non-socially distanced festivities.

The event took place between 29 and 31 December, bringing in the New Year with a wholly domestic lineup featuring Six60, Chaos in the CBD and Shihad.

 

Northern Bass, presented by Fuzen and George FM, also celebrated its 10th chapter with another NYE celebration spanning three days and nights.

Around 10,000 people flocked to the festival site in Mangawhai – just over an hour north of Auckland – for sets from world-renowned artists, producers and DJs including Dimension, Earthgang and LAB.

NZ, which has a population of around 4.8 million, has been lauded for its response to the pandemic and currently only has 72 active Coronavirus cases.

 


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