R&V postponement sweet for many, bitter for others
Postponement of the 2021 Rhythm and Vines festival will come as no surprise — it was obviously doomed once the Gisborne District was put into red under the new traffic light system, hot on the heels of iwi leaders voicing their opposition.
The decision will be welcomed by the many people who were nervous about large numbers of festival-goers arriving in a district that still has a significant number of people who are unvaccinated.
Concerns remain about the potential for other visitors to introduce the virus to this region — although news today of another positive wastewater test shows it might already be here.
Festival organisers said their decision was made in consultation with Tairawhiti iwi, the District Health Board, the local council and MPs. All tickets remain valid for the new dates of April 15-17, and organisers are offering a 14-day refund window for people unable to attend an R&V Easter festival.
The organisers said, “Rhythm and Vines' mission has (been) and always will be a safe and secure festival for all involved, and we believe this decision will allow us to keep delivering the best festival experience that over 400,000 young Kiwis have enjoyed since 2003.
“Getting vaccinated is how we can return to the shows and festivals we love and we encourage everyone to #vaxforlive.”
While many are relieved that the festival is not going ahead this summer, it is clearly disappointing for the thousands of young people now making alternative New Year's holiday plans and the local business community that benefits from the summer influx of R&V revellers.
Hospitality NZ has said the industry cannot be profitable under the red light. Local hospitality venues have looked light under the previous classification, and will now lose even more patrons because of the vaccine pass mandate.
The New Year holiday had already been made bleaker by the necessary but disappointing decision to cancel this year's Fire in the Sky festival, something that attracted more local families than visitors.
The holiday is also looking bleak for those who continue to refuse to get vaccinated, with off-limit venues now including Gisborne District Council facilities.
While the Lytton area is to be congratulated for being the first to reach 90 percent for double vaccination, and Hexton and Whataupoko East are close behind, the regional vaccination rate shows there is still a way to go to see that red light change to orange.