Case for extended licence put by R&V

Being able to watch the sun rise on the first day of the year is one of the key attributes of the Rhythm and Vines festival, the Gisborne District Licensing Committee was told.

R&V Live Nation chief executive Kieran Spillane was speaking in support of an application by the company for a special licence to operate until 5am, which is beyond the hours allowed in the local alcohol policy introduced this year.

The application for longer hours is opposed by police and the Medical Officer of Health, both of who want to see a final security plan approved before it is granted.

Mr Spillane said Rhythm and Vines was an iconic event and the longest running festival in New Zealand, surviving many challenges.

The key difference it had with other festivals was that it was the first festival in the world to see in the New Year.

R&V Live Nation was a responsible host that supported the local alcohol policy and had contributed to reducing alcohol harm in the community.

Less than 0.5 percent of alcohol sales occurred in the period up to 5am, which was by far the slowest period.

More than half the patrons had left the festival. There were no alcohol incidents recorded by police after 2am.

Staying and listening to music and, if desired, buying a drink while watching the sunrise for the New Year was an integral part of R&V, and had been for the past 15 years.

The festival was not comparable with venues with year-round licences and had no impact on the local community.

Police alcohol harm reduction officer Sergeant Isaac Ngatai said police appreciated the steps organisers had taken to reduce alcohol harm and would not oppose the application if the hours were reduced to 2am.

They wanted to see details of the numbers of security staff, their credentials and the hours they would be working.

Sergeant Ngatai praised the work of the alcohol reduction team at the festival.

The festival had been improved by stopping BYO drinks.

In answer to a question from the committee, he said over the past five years he would not say intoxication levels had dropped but organisers had taken appropriate steps.

Providing non-licensed premises had helped the whole event. Where at one stage people just stood there and drank, now they were getting young people coming up and saying thanks for looking after them. They would be able to remember the event as opposed to the past.

Medical Officer of Health Margot McLean said that by 5am patrons could have been drinking for 18½ hours.

This was inconsistent with other festivals.

Statistics showed that alcohol harm for young people in Tairawhiti was significantly higher than the national average.

The 15 percent of local people at the festival amounted to 2700 young people, which was a significant number.

There had been an improvement in efforts to reduce alcohol harm but organisers could do better.

The committee has reserved its decision.

Being able to watch the sun rise on the first day of the year is one of the key attributes of the Rhythm and Vines festival, the Gisborne District Licensing Committee was told.

R&V Live Nation chief executive Kieran Spillane was speaking in support of an application by the company for a special licence to operate until 5am, which is beyond the hours allowed in the local alcohol policy introduced this year.

The application for longer hours is opposed by police and the Medical Officer of Health, both of who want to see a final security plan approved before it is granted.

Mr Spillane said Rhythm and Vines was an iconic event and the longest running festival in New Zealand, surviving many challenges.

The key difference it had with other festivals was that it was the first festival in the world to see in the New Year.

R&V Live Nation was a responsible host that supported the local alcohol policy and had contributed to reducing alcohol harm in the community.

Less than 0.5 percent of alcohol sales occurred in the period up to 5am, which was by far the slowest period.

More than half the patrons had left the festival. There were no alcohol incidents recorded by police after 2am.

Staying and listening to music and, if desired, buying a drink while watching the sunrise for the New Year was an integral part of R&V, and had been for the past 15 years.

The festival was not comparable with venues with year-round licences and had no impact on the local community.

Police alcohol harm reduction officer Sergeant Isaac Ngatai said police appreciated the steps organisers had taken to reduce alcohol harm and would not oppose the application if the hours were reduced to 2am.

They wanted to see details of the numbers of security staff, their credentials and the hours they would be working.

Sergeant Ngatai praised the work of the alcohol reduction team at the festival.

The festival had been improved by stopping BYO drinks.

In answer to a question from the committee, he said over the past five years he would not say intoxication levels had dropped but organisers had taken appropriate steps.

Providing non-licensed premises had helped the whole event. Where at one stage people just stood there and drank, now they were getting young people coming up and saying thanks for looking after them. They would be able to remember the event as opposed to the past.

Medical Officer of Health Margot McLean said that by 5am patrons could have been drinking for 18½ hours.

This was inconsistent with other festivals.

Statistics showed that alcohol harm for young people in Tairawhiti was significantly higher than the national average.

The 15 percent of local people at the festival amounted to 2700 young people, which was a significant number.

There had been an improvement in efforts to reduce alcohol harm but organisers could do better.

The committee has reserved its decision.

Underage access claims disputed at R&V hearing

Claims that underage people were able to get into the Rhythm and Vines festival last year were hotly disputed at a hearing before the Gisborne District Licensing Committee yesterday.

Speaking at an application for the festival hours to extend beyond time limits in the local alcohol policy, medical officer of health Megan McLean said some young people had managed to evade the organisers’ security.

Earlier the committee had been told that all festival-goers were issued with wristbands that were difficult to remove and no one without one would be served. The wristbands could be disabled electronically.

Security provisions included boundary riders on horseback patrolling the perimeter.

Dr McLean referred to an article in The Gisborne Herald in January on underage people getting into the festival.

That drew an immediate challenge that this was not in her submission on the application and she could not bring up new evidence at the hearing.

The committee, however, ruled that it would hear the evidence.

Dr McLean said she wanted to bring to the committee’s attention that there was an issue with underage people being able to get into the festival in the early hours of the morning.

She had not attended Rhythm and Vines, she said.

R&V Live Nation chief executive Kieran Spillane said that was hearsay.

Dr McLean said this had been confirmed by her colleagues.

Mr Spillane said this issue had been raised during planning sessions.

There was no basis for the claim. He was satisfied that security measures taken were sufficient to contain the problem, which was confined to a very small percentage of attendees.

Rhythm and Vines bar manager Wendy Alfeld said that 80 percent of people who did not gain access to the festival, or were submitted to the “angels” dealing with intoxication, were from Gisborne.

That showed the problem was not happening within Rhythm and Vines.

They were turning up at the gate, having preloaded.

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