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The Nambassa Story - page 2


Strolling casually around the stage areas it wasn't exactly obvious there was a beach not far away. Well - sort of... After a bit of a wander around the outskirts of the paddock, I found an ant-like trickle of humanity seemingly bent on a lemming solution! Closer inspection at the edge revealed; yes, there was indeed a track down the cliff to follow.


Homunga Bay is a good half hour trek down - and that much longer going back... even for the fit. But fairly good numbers made it down for a rewarding sea dip.


The most obvious aspect of the beach culture, was the number of togless people. About 70% was my guestimate - and it was fairly clear from the tell-tale 'cotton-tails' that for most, the paradigm of togs as a normality had been changed.


Notable at these festivals was the general air of happiness, relaxation and trust. It is quite a revelation to actually experience those 'random acts of kindness' the clich promotes. I suppose the quick fringe-trim in the car park was for a partner, but more than once I was passed a joint by a complete stranger! I don't know if the police were officially instructed to 'stay cool' but they certainly were - and the effect was wonderful.


The freedom splashed all over the beach was reflected around many of the stage areas, during the day. This was what Neil Finn would come to mourn 20 years later, at the last, ill-fated Sweetwaters. "Where are all the nudes?" he lamented from the stage. At that event, held in South Auckland, the police seemed to be out to prove how random acts of cruelty will stifle a community. The attitude of Auckland's police was overwhelmingly intimidating for no obvious reason. They certainly breached the Bill of Rights Act, often - but who is likely to take on the police to try and prove it?


Although both uniformed and mufti police were on hand at all the Nambassas, they clearly elected not to 'spoil the party' unnecessarily. In fact, they demonstrated a genuinely helpful and conciliatory attitude to all - something that changed significantly after the 1981 Springbok tour debacle, we may remember... From hauling an overdose victim up the cliff from the beach, to softly, softly but nevertheless effective confrontations with gang members; the police at Nambassa were a definite asset - not the liability they have more recently become.

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© John Lowe