Tairāwhiti iwi urged the owners and management of Rhythm and Vines to cancel this year’s festival, fearing it could cause a Covid-19 outbreak in the region.
Last Friday, the presidents of Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata and the general manager of Ngāi Tāmanuhiri met with the general manager and festival director of Rhythm and Vines Live Nation, Kieran Spillane, and the general manager Mark Kneebone to express their concerns about the Festival.
Te Aitanga a Māhaki President Pene Brown said his board of directors had met and was adamant the festival should be canceled due to the threat posed by the 24,000 festival-goers who flock to the city. region.
“We are concerned about the additional stress and pressure the festival will place on local health departments, stores and accommodation owners who are on red alert,” Brown said.
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Rhythm and Vines representatives told the iwi that they were doing everything they could to ensure the safety of the event, and that they were working with health officials and within government guidelines, to meet health and safety requirements.
All people participating in the festival must be doubly vaccinated and have a vaccination passport.
Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou President Selwyn Parata said: “Local iwi have taken the initiative and canceled annual events such as the Ngāti Porou Pa wars and the Dawn of Hikurangi Mountain ceremony, as they thought it was the responsible thing to do and the R&V should follow. combination. “
Parata, who is also chairman of Te Matatini, the national organizing committee for the kapa haka festival, said next year’s festival is expected to attract 30,000 performers and spectators if it takes place in Auckland in February.
But it was canceled “because protecting whakapapa, whānau and kapa was the highest priority of the national organizing committee”.
Presidents of Iwi were concerned that the region still had a major vaccination challenge, with 75 percent of the region’s eligible population fully vaccinated.
Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust President Moera Brown said, “Iwi health providers are working overtime and doing everything they can to get as many people vaccinated as possible and iwi organizations are working with our hapū and marae to prepare them. upon Delta’s arrival at Tairāwhiti.
“We have concluded that we cannot rely on anyone else; our whānau must be self-managed and autonomous. “
Brown said scenario planning for the arrival of Covid-19 made it clear that hospitals and health services in the region would be under great pressure.
“Many of our whānau and rural communities will need to be prepared to take care of themselves, as they did in Bola and during recent civil defense emergencies. “
Tama Waipara, General Manager and Creative Director of the Tairāwhiti Festival of the Arts, said: “In these times of Covid, festivals and events cannot be viewed in isolation from the communities, in which the events take place.
“The health and well-being of communities must be a key consideration for event planners, not just the health and safety of festival-goers, performers and workers.
“It feels like the focus is on Tairāwhiti as a destination and not on consideration,” Waipara said.
Iwi told festival organizers that they will have a hard time recruiting locals to work at the festival, saying many whānau who had previously worked as R&V security and parking guards said they would not work on them. it was taking place.
When asked if they had considered hosting the event in Auckland or other places that have a 90 percent vaccination rate by December 30, R&V organizers said that they had asked for information but that there wasn’t a suitable place that could recreate the unique R&V setting and the vibe, and now there wasn’t enough time.
With festival organizers saying people needed to be double vaccinated to attend, 2,500 R&V tickets were refunded.
Slowness to engage with iwi
Rhythm and Vine CEO Kieran Spillane told iwi that Live Nation, R&V owners and management are keen to develop an ongoing relationship with the local iwi, admitting that it has been slow to engage with them. iwi and that a dialogue was long overdue.
Tai Kerekere, representative of Parihimanihi Marae on the board of Te Aitanga a Māhaki, said their marae and hapū felt aggrieved by the lack of direct approach with them, as the mana whenua of Waiohika.
Both sides agreed the meeting was useful.
“We local iwi are compelled to take a stand on the festival, noting the concerns of our whānau, the petitions circulating in the community and our obligation as mana whenua to protect our lands, our people and our community,” said Brown. .
A follow-up meeting will take place once the government announces details regarding the introduction of the traffic lights and additional clarifications on “the subscription of canceled events and festivals”.
RNZ has asked Live Nation for comment.
During this time, Thing reports that more than 3,000 people have signed an online petition urging the organizers of the Gisborne festival to cancel the event due to the danger of the spread of Covid-19 in the community.
This is because the Tairāwhiti DHB, which includes Gisborne, has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.
Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz said last week that if events like Rhythm & Vines were important to her area, the priority was to achieve the 90% vaccination rate.