New own­ers at Home­grown

Waikato News - - Front Page -

Mark Wright is a proud Hamil­to­nian, hav­ing started the ex­treme sports event X*Air in the city in 2000, which even­tu­ally evolved into the Home­grown mu­sic fes­ti­val in Wellington, at­tract­ing sell-out au­di­ences.

He’s now hand­ing two thirds of the busi­ness to loyal col­leagues and fel­low Hamil­ton res­i­dents, An­drew Tuck and Rachel Tur­ney, who have been work­ing with him for 16 and 17 years re­spec­tively.

Wright orig­i­nally started X*Air in recog­ni­tion of his pas­sions for wake­board­ing in the Waikato’s lo­cal lakes and wa­ter­ways, as well as mo­tor­cy­cling. Also en­com­pass­ing skate­board­ing, BMX and freestyle mo­tocross, it turned into a large, in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned event.

Pro skater Tony Hawk, BMX rider David Mirra and many more of the world’s best at­tended the event on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions.

It was based in Hamil­ton for six years be­fore nat­u­rally mor­ph­ing into Home­grown, Wright said.

“Hamil­ton City Coun­cil, who had funded the event, were look­ing at with­draw­ing their fund­ing, which was go­ing to bring a chal­lenge to keep it all work­ing how it needed to work.

“Also, at the time, we were kind of burst­ing at the seams at Claude­lands, which was ob­vi­ously be­fore their re­de­vel­op­ment, so we were lit­er­ally blow­ing out the sides of all the things to make it hap­pen.”

Home­grown, pay­ing tes­ta­ment to Kiwi mu­si­cians and their fans, per­pet­u­ated the ethos bred in Hamil­ton with X*Air. Tuck and Tur­ney con­tin­ued to work with Wright on that ven­ture, while con­tin­u­ing to re­side in Hamil­ton.

“I was plan­ning on do­ing Home­grown for about three years be­fore it hap­pened, and it was just that there was a nat­u­ral change in di­rec­tion glob­ally from Red Bull, and a change in di­rec­tion strate­gi­cally from Voda­fone, which meant that X*Air just came to a nat­u­ral con­clu­sion.”

Wright is happy to be hand­ing part of the busi­ness over to Tuck and Tur­ney.

“The key for me per­son­ally is how many hours there are in a day. We used to run Coro Gold at New Year’s Eve in Whi­tianga as well, and with two fes­ti­vals it was just an un­sus­tain­able life­style— 70 hour weeks the en­tire time. I wanted to get away from that,” he said.

When asked about the pos­si­bil­ity of an event like Home­grown be­ing started in Hamil­ton, Wright was con­ser­va­tive but hope­ful.

“One day I’m sure there will be. An­drew in par­tic­u­lar has got a de­sire to do some­thing here, but it’s just about ev­ery­thing we do needs to be sus­tain­able, and that’s sus­tain­able for our fam­i­lies as well.”

He added that the venue at Claude­lands was “far su­pe­rior” to what they were when

Home­grown be­gan, and was be­ing man­aged well, so he sees the po­ten­tial for fu­ture events is there.

“Cer­tainly never say never.”

Home­grown con­sis­tently at­tracts big-name acts such as Six60, pic­tured, and large crowds.

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