16 Jan, 2023
Hakaru’s hills and valleys once again came alive with the sound of music as thousands of partygoers saw in 2023 at the tenth anniversary of an iconic festival.
Returning after a year hiatus due to Covid restrictions, the much-anticipated Northern Bass (NB) festival featured a star cast of international and local musical acts, performing across three stages from December 29-31, attracting over 11,000 people to the Settlement Road site.
Created by promotion and production company Fuzen, festival director Gareth Popham says although 2022 was a particularly challenging year for the whole events industry, it also motivated the NB team to work harder behind the scenes.
“Now Northern Bass is back and it was stronger than ever, with a line-up we are proud to say was one of our best yet!” he says. “We want to thank our local community and supporters for the ten years we’ve had at our home on Worsfold’s Farm.”
The thousands of festival-goers help boost the local economy by spending their cash around Kaiwaka and Mangawhai’s shops, bars, eateries and accommodation resorts, however hosting and organising such a large band of people naturally brings its challenges. This year, NB ticket holders were left waiting for hours in long queues while trying to enter the site, the delay caused by the destruction of a temporary access road which NB had established, by the wet weather and a handful of early festival goers ‘who decided to do skids… they were made to wait even longer, for many, many hours in their car.’
Another common problem for large scale festivals is dealing with the huge amount of rubbish left behind, especially with discarded tents, and in the past two events NB have trialled KarTents, a temporary structure made entirely out of cardboard allowing for easy recycling. While popular, the eco-shelter was not used this year Gareth says, instead the team started something new, ‘Green Camp.’
“This is a site where customers could either pay for a pre-pitched tent or a pre-saved tent site, where they bring their own tent, and they had to pay a bond which was given back if they take their tent home and leave their site clean. It worked amazingly this year so we’ll be increasing it in size next year.”
While generally tolerant, residents along Settlement Road also face disruptions during the three-day event, including lengthy traffic queues and dust disturbance from the metal road, with a few incidents reported on local social media regarding invasive festival-goers using gardens as toilets and farm stock breaking fences after allegedly being spooked by the New Year fireworks. However, one local who worked at NB this year says she was incredibly impressed by the management and organisers and the number of challenges they had to deal with ‘on only a few hours sleep, ‘they do care about taking care of the locals… as a community we can handle it [NB] for a few days.’.
Locals residing along Settlement Road are sent an information newsletter a few months prior to the festival, outlining safety initiatives and traffic procedures including checkpoint locations, use of dust mitigation and a Stop/Go on the one-way bridge, as well as how to access visitor codes, resident stickers and to advise about the annual fireworks display on New Years Eve.
“While our 10th year in Kaiwaka was a success in many ways, we want to acknowledge and apologise for the extra pressure placed on the infrastructure and our neighbours this year,” Gareth says. “As everyone around the area knows, the region had a particularly wet winter and the unseasonal rain drenching Kaiwaka and Hakaru for a good five weeks before Christmas. This weather had a huge impact on us, along with Covid-driven and border related labour shortages hitting the entire economy. We learnt a lot from this year and will continue to work with council and stakeholders to avoid the challenges faced in 2022.”
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With acres of parking, camping, services, three stages and a line-up of world-class DJs and musicians, Northern Bass stretches across the Mangawhai countryside for a three night celebration over New Year. PHOTO/KADIN YEATES
“We want to thank our local community and supporters for the ten years we’ve had at our home on Worsfold’s Farm.”
- Gareth Popham