Matakana Island is staging its biggest event this month to promote its community of 280 people and to take a strong stand against drugs, alcohol and smoking, a stance organisers hope will spread across the water to the entire Bay of Plenty.
Organised by the island's Te Awanui Hauora Trust (health trust), the Natural Breeze music festival and its top-class acts will showcase the community to visitors on Saturday, January 16.
The festival, a smoke, drug and alcohol-free event (although there will be a designated smoking area), is the dream of Matakana Island resident and interim chairperson of the Hauora, Tony Palmer.
About four years ago he went to a concert, free of alcohol and drugs, in Huntly and saw the benefits of making a stand against such negative influences.
"Earlier this year when Chris [Murray] came on board [at the Hauora], we decided we wanted to do something similar and so we went about pulling together a concert," Tony says.
Chris, Tony and a raft of other people from all over the Bay of Plenty, many of whom whakapapa back to Matakana Island, have been tying together resources to make it happen.
Planning began last March and if the festival is successful, the Hauroa hopes it will become a biennial event.
"We've decided to fit it into January between other big acts on in the Bay during summer," Mrs Murray said.
"And we've tapped into a lot of our people on the mainland to do it, with many having skills and resources we can use, including people who work at security companies, bus companies, some with experience signing up bands, publicity, administration, finance, people at Western Bay of Plenty District Council and many others."
The event is limited to 3000 tickets - the $52 ticket price for adults includes return transport from a bus pick-up in Tauranga, ferry and bus to venue.
Children under 12 have free entry with an adult ticket, while those aged 60-plus can purchase a $30 ticket which gives entry to a "kaumatua room", limited to 70 (these tickets are separate from festival tickets and available from the Hauora www.teawanuihauora.org.nz).
To be staged at Matakana Island Sports and Recreation Club, the event starts at 10am with last admissions at 6pm. Entertainment will end at 9pm to enable visitors to return to the mainland at a reasonable time.
The logistics of transporting such a large number of people to and from the island has been one of the organisers' biggest headaches.
Buses will transport people from planned park and ride areas - Sulphur Point (Tauranga), the south end of Totara St (Mount Maunganui) and Omokoroa Point School.
Ferries will then carry festival-goers from Salisbury wharf, Sanford's wharf and Omokoroa ferry landing (the park and ride in Omokoroa is to keep the ferry landing area free of congestion).
Eight buses will run to and from the venue throughout the day from the island's various wharves. All forms of transport are open only to ticket holders, and there are no gate sales.
The festival boasts an impressive line-up of acts,
including Katchafire, Herbs Unplugged, P-Money PNC, and Maisey Rika. They join local bands and musicians such as Regan Perry, She Just Greedy, A Few Words From Dave (Mount Maunganui College's runners-up at this year's regional smokefreerockquest), Nytmare, Tauranga Boys' and Girls' College Kapahaka, and several acts from Katikati College.
"We do not want to make a profit - our main aim is to promote and expose the skills of talented people from Tauranga Moana, who will be on stage alongside national acts," Mr Palmer said.
Organisers say the event is a chance to showcase the island - which has a fluctuating population of between 280 and 300 - and make it clear to people that negative reports are not a true reflection of life on the island. The island has a primary school of 40 children from new entrants to Year 8, with 1.5km of sealed road and one Give Way sign.
"We're taking this opportunity to say 'hey this is what it is really like here' on Matakana," Mrs Murray said.
Natural Breeze tickets from Ticket Direct, phone 577-7188 or see www.ticketdirect.co.nz, Omokoroa Beach Store, Traks in Devonport Rd (Tauranga), Marbecks at Bayfair or Te Awanui Hauora. For more go to www.teawanuihauora.org.nz or email Christine@teawanuihauora.org.nz