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Ruapuke venue again for a summer music festival

Ruapuke will reverberate to the beat of reggae next month when the beach motor camp again hosts a full-on music festival, just three years on from the last Boardies & Bikinis – the Tractor FM event silenced by bureaucratic red tape.

The new, three-day Ruapuke Roots Garden Festival – billed as New Zealand’s first ever dedicated reggae sound system event and now nine months in the planning – promises not only three sound systems set up in one arena but also a plethora of live acts featuring local and internationally recognised artists in a second arena.

Organisers are promising that an “exciting” final lineup of acts will be announced very soon for the festival, which will be staged the weekend after Waitangi Weekend when Boardies & Bikinis was traditionally held.

But it won’t be all bass guitars and offbeat rhythms. “There’ll be lots of variation for people who aren’t there (just) for reggae,” says co-organiser Michael Robins, an analog film photographer and video maker originally from Wellington but now permanently on the road.

He mentions the likes of yoga workshops and children’s storytimes, a magician and local celebrity chef Jimmy Boswell running a one-off Caribbean foodstand.
Describing himself as “floating”, Michael has a housebus in New Zealand and a housetruck in Europe where, he says, he regularly tours the non-commercial festivals with partner Renee Palamountain. The couple, along with friend and fellow event organiser Josh Llwellwyn – always on the lookout for “beautiful” festival locations – have had equal input in getting this roots festival off the ground.

And it’s Ruapuke’s rugged coastline that’s caught their eye as the ideal location. “Ruapuke has the infrastructure to host an event,” Michael explains, “and the locals (immediate neighbours) are keen and excited to be involved.”

Michael told the Chronicle they’ve continued in the kaupapa originated from both Boardies & Bikinis at Ruapuke, and Raglan’s successful Soundsplash eco reggae festival for years before that at Wainui Reserve.

A relaxed “walkabout” crowd – with about 80 percent camping on site – is expected at the festival. Early Bird tickets have already sold out but organisers wouldn’t be drawn on exact numbers of tickets up for grabs, preferring instead to call it an “intimately-sized” festival with a green ethos.

Festival partners include Lion Rockers Hi-Fi from Piha, Kindred Sound System from Christchurch and I-Livity I-Fi from Germany which has its sound system currently being shipped to New Zealand for the Ruapuke event and another 90 minutes’ north of Auckland at Te Arai.

Together – according to Eventfinda – they comprise some of the finest selectors, producers and MCs around, and will showcase “a wide spectrum of reggae and bass music on a host of outernational and local custom-built sound systems”.

Enthusiasm for an event such as this, Michael explains, has come from the idea – born in the ’50s in Jamaica – of a reggae sound system which projects hi-fi at the highest quality level possible, as was intended by studio producers and musicians.

Since then, he adds, the culture has travelled to the UK, spread through Europe, Latin America and, in the past decade, down to the Pacific.
Meantime, Auckland’s Perfect Sound Solutions – another partner in the venture – will provide the sound system for the live stage.

Festival organisers are working with local recycling centre Xtreme Zero Waste to attain – or surpass – Raglan’s 75 percent landfill diversion rate over the three days. “Like our passion for music, they also have the same passion for turning waste into a resource and we are looking forward to making recycling a fun and educational exercise for our crowd,” says Michael.

After the roots festival wraps up some of the top acts are expected to continue on to perform at the Yot Club’s Sunday Session downtown in Raglan.
Ruapuke Roots Garden Festival runs February 13-15. See for ticket pricing.

Edith Symes

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