Rhythm and Vines has been postponed due to Covid-19 restrictions. The festival has been rescheduled for Easter Weekend next year.
The three-day festival was due to take place at Waiohika Estate just out of Gisborne over New Year’s, but will now be held from April 15 to April 17, 2022.
In a statement, festival organisers said the change in date was the best move forward.
“This decision has been made in consultation with Tairāwhiti iwi, Tairāwhiti DHB, local councils and MPs and takes into account the New Zealand Government announcement on November 29 that the Gisborne region will remain at the red setting of the traffic light system until at least December 13, 2021,” said a festival spokesperson.
The postponement was almost certain after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed on Monday Gisborne would be one of 12 districts to move into the red level of the “traffic light system” due to low vaccination rates.
The regional settings will be reviewed fortnightly, but with double vaccination rates well below 90 percent, Tairāwhiti seemed likely to stay in the red.
Festivals are only able to go ahead at the orange and green levels under the Covid-19 Protection Framework, with the addition of a My Vaccine Pass.
“Rhythm and Vines’ mission has, and always will be a safe and secure festival for all involved and believes this decision will allow us to keep delivering the best festival experience that over 400,000 young Kiwis have enjoyed since 2003,” the spokesperson said.
“Rhythm and Vines would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone who has continued to support this year's festival including all staff, contractors, artists and suppliers who will have been affected by this decision.”
The festival will get financial support after the Government announced major events cancelled or postponed this summer due to Covid-19 would be refunded up to 90 percent of their unrecoverable cost.
The postponement comes off the back of Tairāwhiti iwi telling Rhythm and Vines owners and management that the New Year festival should be cancelled.
The chairs of Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Ngāti Porou and Rongowhakaata and the Ngai Tamanuhiri chief executive were adamant the festival should be cancelled because of the threat posed by 24,000 festival-goers pouring into the region.
Mayor Rehette Stoltz thanked the organisers.
“I know that it has been a tough decision for R&V to make, and I want to thank them for making our community safety one of their top priorities.
“These are uncertain times that will keep changing, and I am confident that we will be in a better position at Easter. I want to encourage our community to come forward and help us get our vaccination rates up to 90%.
“I know that there will be disappointed businesses out there who rely on the R&V income and I want to put the challenge out to our community to go out of their way this summer to support our local businesses as best as they can and help fill that void. Please get behind our local businesses and invest in our Tairāwhiti economy.”
The new dates for the festival will be from April 15 to 17, making it a Friday to Sunday festival, with extra camping allowed on April 14.