This was a guest post for the Nowhere blog
by Isa Ritchie
After journeying through the rolling hills of our Lord-of-the-rings-esque landscape, passing unperturbed cows and sheep, and stopping in quirky old fashioned small towns, you will find yourself at New Zealand’s version of burner reality: Kiwiburn. Prepare for lush green pastures, friendly faces, wild parties and refreshing swims in the river.
Every January, a bunch of fine folk from all different walks of life gather in a paddock in the mild (sunny and wet) climate of the New Zealand summer. Here you’ll find many familiar burn things: a tough build-crew, participants from all over the world, hippy fire dancers, all kinds of sound camps, interactive art installations, diverse theme camps – including some set up to support the needs of international travellers, bars and our fair share of strange events – planned and unplanned. Every year we build an effigy out of wood, set it on fire and celebrate. We also build a temple to burn our emotional baggage in.
Kiwiburn has been going for over a decade and has grown slowly but steadily, so the culture (an interesting mix of humble Kiwi friendliness and burning madness) has had time to mature, develop and age like a fine wine. We have developed quaint ways of enacting the Burning Man principles. Radical self-expression can be challenging for the humble Kiwi, but it’s a challenge taken on with determination.
We have worked to create a culture where communal effort and participation are central. Radical inclusion comes naturally in our culture, as does radical self-reliance and decommodification. Gifting is both actively and passively expressed on the paddock through cookie and candy trees and a free op shop (second-hand store) in the form of a clothes line. Immediacy is everywhere you look and takes many subtle and flamboyant forms. We take civic responsibility and leaving-no-trace very seriously and are always working on improving our systems so that they function better to serve the community.
Join us at Kiwiburn! Take in the beautiful scenery and express yourself radically. You can be rest-assured that New Zealand is a relatively safe country. Aside from the hot sun, we have a relatively unchallenging environment. We don’t have very nasty spiders nor any snakes and the grass is comfortable to sit on. We are family-friendly, so bring your kids. We have some trees for shade (though you should bring your own), and clear, fresh water for swimming in so you can wash off the festival grime and experience a whole new you.
If you’re ever in need of help you can rely on our hard-working, professional medics, Black Sheep Rangers, security and all other information from the world-class establishment known as the Depot, Kiwiburn’s hub. If you’re interested in exploring the world’s southern-most regional burn and would like to know more, check out our website and join our Facebook group. Come and burn with us – see you on the paddock!
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