Image: Kiwiburn.
Image: Kiwiburn.

MusicAugust 6, 2018

Burned out: The Kiwi Burning Man has been cancelled

Image: Kiwiburn.
Image: Kiwiburn.

‘Burners’ around the country will have to look elsewhere for their collectivist fix after Kiwiburn 2019 was cancelled by event organisers.

New Zealand’s regional Burning Man event has been cancelled after extended negotiations around council noise restrictions meant a 2019 iteration of the festival became unfeasible.

A sell-out event held annually at the end of January, Kiwiburn is a collectivist participatory festival on the banks of the Rangitikei River near Hunterville.

Citing their intention to secure a 10 year resource consent, organisers said an overly prohibitive compromise would prove too restrictive to the nature of the festival.

“It is very important for Kiwiburn to have a positive relationship with the local community, so we are actively seeking ways to assure them that the event will not have a negative impact,” they said in a statement. “Balancing this with the wants and realities of what Kiwiburn is and wants to be makes it unwise to rush this process, meaning agreeing to Council noise conditions which are not achievable would massively change the nature of Kiwiburn.”

A spokesperson for the Rangitikei District Council was unavailable for comment.

Styled after the famed Burning Man in Black Rock, Nevada, the event is a world unto itself, with a functioning gift economy, volunteer performers, art installations and the traditional ‘burning of the man’, in which a wooden effigy is set alight to mark the climax of the festival.

The burning of the effigy means different things to different people, however it’s generally understood as an opportunity for relinquishing fears, letting go of negativity and radical self expression. The Marton Fire Service uses the burning of the Effigy at Kiwiburn for training purposes.

Image: Kiwiburn.

Founded by Mark ‘Yonderman’ Stirling, who alongside his partner Jane discovered Burning Man by accident in 1994, the festival is built on the ’10 guiding principles’, comprising concepts such as self-reliance, decommodification and radical inclusion.

Unlike the gentrified Nevada iteration, which these days features runways for Silicon Valley jets, hordes of personal chefs, and countless Musk-esque tech moguls in steampunk glasses, Kiwiburn remains a rustic event – with all the fun that entails.

This year two men fell from a cliff on consecutive nights after attempting to enter the festival after hours. In 2016 a woman was injured when a tree fell on her tent.

Organisers say negotiations with council will continue in order to reach a compromise that is both reasonable and achievable. This time around, however, it looks like hopeful attendees will have to find somewhere else to let their freak flags fly.

“We hope many positive things will come from this decision and encourage you all to think of what you can do within your local community to ignite the Burner spirit, and prepare for Kiwiburn 2020.”

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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