Queenstown reggae concert latest casualty of housing crisis

by Lauren Pattemore - Feb 05, 2024

Queenstown's housing struggles have put the brakes on beloved community event Waitangi Day Reggae in the Gardens this year, as the organiser has found himself caught out by the accommodation crisis.

Event organiser Tyrone Morehu says he is "clutching at straws" after spending three months trying to find a place to live - and this year's event just had to give.

Instead of grooving on the grass at the new home of the annual music festival on the recreation grounds behind the central library, he'll be putting his household contents in storage and cleaning his flat as his lease runs out tomorrow.

"Unfortunately I'm right in the middle of moving and have an entire household of furniture to move, as well as my repairs workshop - I do electronic and computer repairs from home - and my personal belongings," Mr Morehu says.

Last year saw hundreds of visitors and locals congregate at the reserve as Kiwi musicians and DJs played reggae in celebration of the signing of Te Tiriti and Bob Marley's birthday - also falling on February 6.

The Waitangi Day event has been running for more than 20 years, and has been run by Mr Morehu for the past few years.  

Mr Morehu expressed his "deepest regrets" for the cancellation, in a Facebook post published on January 31.

"We have to let you all know that this year's event will not be held unfortunately, like a lot of peeps in QT we're stuck in the housing crisis, and after 6 months of trying to find a new rental, and the past three months trying to find a house," the social media post says.

"We've come up empty."

For those still wanting to celebrate Waitangi Day at a community event, Mana Tāhuna and the Queenstown Lakes District Council are holding an event with local performances, food stalls and games, from midday in the Queenstown Gardens. 

Main image (Facebook/Waitangi Day Reggae in the Gardens): A photo from 2017's rendition of community event Waitangi Day Reggae in the Gardens.

Advertise with Crux Advertise with Crux