15 Years of tireless work to produce NYE's Rhythm & Vines
15 Years of tireless work to produce New Year's Rhythm &
It's epic, a rite of passage and just one way in New Zealand to celebrate the dawn of the New Year. It's also arguably the best place to celebrate New Years. Who is anyone to argue with the 18,000 people on average who make the annual trip to Gisborne, to get the tee shirt, celebrate with mates, listen to world class music, and say they were at Rhythm & Vines.
Yet for the organisers Hamish Pinkham and his team, it's been a long time since they celebrated a relaxing Christmas and New Years, fifteen years in fact. For all involved, these are sacrifices to ensure festival-goers have the best time ever is a way of life by choice. Who wants to work 36 weeks a year when you can work smart and hard, and follow your passion to produce a world-class music festival.
There are many industries involved to create the festival, it's essentially setting up a small city for 3 days. The tireless work around the clock from the Saint John's ambulance workers, the Police, artist transport, volunteers, and it's cool to see the big smiles of the Gissy locals who greet you at the entrance to the festival are mostly mums. Even the bar operators who serve festival goers drinks around the clock so festival goers can stay hydrated are all making little sacrifices. There are hundreds of paid staff and then volunteers contribute to make it happen. A big operation.
During the build-up to Rhythm, there so much to do, problems to solve, to create the colourful flag waving festival amongst the green undulating hills in the scenic Gisborne vineyard of Waiohika Estate.
This year once the doors open on the 29th of December and the mud had cleared, attendees arrived in streams. Armed with tents, short shorts, arm bands, team tee shirts and even sweatbands - anything goes.
Times have changed, its more diverse and culturally it appeals to a wider audience. From a come of age 18-year-old who we heard rave "...and did you hear she said hello to me - she was so nice" in reference to the VIP visit of New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Even the son of former Prime Minister's Max Key DJed to a large crowd on the first evening. For those who don’t understand the cult of Rhythm & Vines or who think they are too old to enjoy the music festival, Belinda Henley has been commissioned to produce the Road to Rhythm documentary funded by TVonAir aired in early 2018.
Looking around the festival site there has been a lot of innovation; from the new stages, teepees, streamlined ticketing systems, a comedy stage, and the newly opened the garden stage next to Waiohika homestead. Last night festival founder Hamish Pinkham and his marketing manager Kyle Bell performed to their black tee Black White Dynamite fans next to the tennis court famed for New Years tennis games in years gone by.
This year during the day, people can listen to industry experts Netsky, Hamish Pinkham and Josh Smith speak about how to get into the music industry. Watch out SXSW - what a great way to educate and inspire festival goers during the day whilst their hangovers wear off.
The festival isn't without its drama. Lost phones, lost people, drunken students, broken bones, and loads of rubbish. For the majority however it finishes with a happy ending; new friends, budding relationships, found phones, recovered bodies, employment, a clean vineyard, and most importantly happy memories.
So as you reach for your glass of choice during the sunset of 2017 this evening, spare a thought for all the people who are working tirelessly tonight to ensure you have a safe, secure and brilliant dawn of 2018. To those working to make it happen - we are grateful for the 15 years of memories that Rhythm & Vines has etched into New Zealand's music history. Not just as a music festival but the best place to celebrate the dawn of a New Year.
Writer Christine Glover is the ex Festival Manager of Rhythm & Vines returning to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the music festival.