New Year’s Eve con­cert on square shifted to March

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

Those looking to cel­e­brate New Year’s Eve on Aotea Square will have to go else­where this year.

The First Night con­cert, held ev­ery year since 1999, has been shelved be­cause of construction work in the square.

But or­gan­is­ers The Edge say it hasn’t been can­celled, just shifted to March.

Work on the $80 mil­lion square re­de­vel­op­ment and Civic carpark roof re­pair started ear­lier this year and ma­jor ex­ca­va­tion is un­der way.

The Edge as­so­ciate di­rec­tor of arts pro­grammes Craig Cooper says construction fenc­ing and ac­cess in and out of the square would “com­pro­mise peo­ple’s vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence”.

“It’s not an is­sue for most of our ac­tiv­i­ties but when you get 20,000 peo­ple it be­comes a bit of a crowd man­age­ment is­sue.”

The free fam­ily con­cert was held in the square for three years be­fore be­ing moved in­side the Aotea Cen­tre af­ter struc­tural prob­lems with the carpark roof were dis­cov­ered.

Mr Cooper says al­though the construction doesn’t di­rectly af­fect ac­tiv­ity in the cen­tre, it makes manag­ing a large crowd “lo­gis­ti­cally re­ally dif­fi­cult”.

He says the First Night con­cert drew be­tween 10,000 and 20,000 peo­ple to hear pop­u­lar lo­cal bands and wel­come in the new year.

The con­cert will be re­placed with a pro­gramme of free fam­ily events.

Mr Cooper says it made more sense to spread cel­e­bra­tions over a longer pe­riod later in the year.

The se­ries of free week­end events are part of the We Are Open cam­paign, re­mind­ing peo­ple that the Aotea Cen­tre will op­er­ate dur­ing the re­de­vel­op­ment.

The events will be a com­bi­na­tion of work by arts com­pa­nies and lo­cal com­mu­nity groups.

Auck­land City Coun­cil CBD projects group man­ager David Sheri­dan Jones says part of the square has been closed off and move­ment in and around it is re­stricted.

He says it would be im­prac­ti­cal and risky to hold events with large crowds.

Mr Sheri­dan Jones says once com­plete the square will be able to host large crowds for con­certs and cul­tural fes­ti­vals.

“An event such as First Night falls in that cat­e­gory.”

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