Event manager Brian Ruawai has a vision for Soundsplash, beyond it being a music festival to entertain.

Following the success of the three-day event, which was attended by about 4000 people, Brian says he’s keen to do it all again.

“The higher purpose of Soundsplash is I would really like to see a performing arts school in Raglan, which is why I got a lot of youth involved (in this year’s festival).”

He wants to set up a trust to help fund such a school, with money from the festival going into the trust.

“The goal is to make Soundsplash a success, to put money towards this arts school … to make it happen.”

His vision is that its students will also help run the festival.

This year he had two Wintec students help with event management.

He also pulled together a young crew of Raglan locals to help erect 1000 square metres of bamboo shelters at the festival, under the guidance of some experts from the United State

“That’s a skill in itself,” he says. “They worked hard.

“The idea is to keep building on that kind of thing, getting youth involved.”

Brian’s own children, Kaea and Reiki, aged 17 and 16, who both had to go “over the hill” to get an education in the arts, had a lot of input into Soundsplash.

They can also be credited with part of the reason why Soundsplash returned to Raglan after a seven-year break. Originally running from 2001 to 2008, a combination of bad weather and competition caused organisers to call it off.

Brian says his kids are at that age where they want to go to other music festivals with friends, but he is reluctant to let them go because drinking is permitted in camping areas.

“I have played at a lot festivals and they are messy,” says the Cornerstone Roots vocalist/guitarist.

“They said ‘if we can’t go to those festivals, why can’t we have Soundsplash back’.

“It was our kids who asked if we could do a youth ticket.”

In the past there was a family pass, where children under 14 got in for free with a paying parent, as they did at this year’s event, “but why punish the over 15-year-olds with a full-price ticket?”

An alcohol ban in the camping areas reinforced the youth and family-friendly vibe of the festival.

“There was a very young demographic, which was good.

“For many of the teens it would have been their first experience (going to a festival), and we wanted that to be a positive experience for them in a safe environment.”

He says the youth that attended were “just buzzing to have a little independence and have a great weekend with their friends”.

“I’ve never dealt with that demographic before,” he says. “It’s about influencing positive behaviour  … confiscating alcohol and not allowing alcohol in the camping ground … it’s about setting a precedent for first-time festival goers, that it doesn’t need to be alcohol-fueled.”

He says he’s very satisfied with how the event went, and Friday’s rain, which wasn’t unexpected, didn’t deter the young ones at all.

“Yeah man, they were vibing out. As soon as we opened the gates they were setting up their areas … walking around the venue, buying food … happy to be there.”

Volunteer Lisa Thomson, who was at the gate collecting tickets, says she loaned her raincoat to a rather wet teenager, but even with the rain the atmosphere was great.

“Because it was a very young crowd they were all very well-mannered.”

Stella Vos-Tutt, 17, and Lili Bush, 17, from Auckland, camped out with friends.

“The first day it was really muddy from all the cars coming in at the same time,” says Stella.

“We just ended up barefoot. Even in jandals you were sliding everywhere. The bank was so muddy, everyone was sliding down the hill.

“Once you embraced the weather it was really good.

“Saturday was so much fun because it was sunny and everyone was really happy.”

The girls say the festival was “definitely a highlight” of their summer holiday.

Constable Dean McMillan says there was no disorder at Soundsplash due to the high visibility of police and security staff, and it was a well-run event.

Inger Vos