Homegrown 2021: Luck and sanitiser as festival set to go through night

Feelings of fortune and hygiene were in the air as one of the biggest music festivals happening anywhere in the world got under way in the capital.
Almost 25,000 Kiwis were expected at Homegrown, which started on Saturday at 1pm on Wellingtons waterfront, and will go till late in the night.

From mid-afternoon, streams of festival-goers began queueing at multiple sites of entry for the 2021 festival, which sees 50 acts play across six different stages in proximity to one another, making the festival the largest collection of New Zealand music on one ticket.

With time clearing the capitals overcast skies earlier in the afternoon to blue towards the evening, people scanned in through the festivals gates with both their wristbands and the Covid Tracer App.

Ria Hall was an opening act at Homegrown.

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This year, the festival has been undeniably marked by the pandemic, with even a roaming sani-squad group of sanitisation champions resembling both Ghostbusters characters offering hand sanitiser and QR code scanning services to groups of ticketholders clustered together.

Ria Hall, who was one of the festivals first performers of the evening, began her soulful act by saying how lucky Aotearoa was to be in a position where live music could go ahead on such a large scale.

Crowds enjoy Troy Kingis performance at this years Homegrown.

How fortunate are we? ... We are one of the few countries in the world where we can perform, she told chilled afternoon crowds at the festivals Arena Stage, near TSB Arena.

As a full-time artist, as a mother as well, to be here in this space doing what we love, for the love of music and for the love of our audiences [is a privilege] ... thank you so much for coming through.

Before Halls performance, a whakatau and mihi was held with mana whenua representatives from local iwi Taranaki Whnui and Ngti Toa Rangatira to welcome crowds to the space, and to officially open the festival.

Chaii performing at Homegrown.

In the afternoon, crowds outside were enjoying the vibes of Lepani as much as they were inside with Troy Kingi. Other acts due to perform throughout the evening including Stan Walker, Elemeno P, Nesian Mystik, The Feelers, Opshop, Che Fu & The Kratez, Katchafire, Trinity Roots, Sons of Zion, L.A.B., Ladi6, Savage, and the Black Seeds.

Ross Giblin
The crowd enjoying Skinny Hobos.

Under drones and helicopters flying overhead and booming speaker systems reverberating through the city, ambulance and other emergency service personnel, including lifeguards, were on stand-by while festival-goers began immersing themselves in the sounds of the artists on show.

Some 1500 Homegrown crew members were busy running around, managing the crowds of about 24,000 ticket holders who are set to attend the festival at some point throughout the night.

Hall told crowds Aotearoa was fortunate to be able to put on live performance on such a large scale.

In recent weeks, those same crews have been hard at work unloading about 190 containers of equipment which make up the sets for the six stages scattered along the waterfront.

As the festival got under way, Wellington police continued to warn people of the possibility of increased risk of drug use, and the potential for someone to ingest a substance thats more dangerous than what it says on its packet.

In a post on the Wellington District Police Facebook page, police warned that a sythentic cathinone known as eutylone was circulating in the capital ahead of Homegrown.

Troy Kingi performing at this years Homegrown.

Authorities warned festival-goers to be aware that dangerous amounts of eutylone had been detected in yellow Red Bull tablets, which people may presume to be MDMA, and urged vigilance for any attendees.

Last year, Covid-19 forced organisers to postpone Homegrown to March this year, which attracted criticism when ticket holders were not refunded.


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