Raggamuffin lost Rotorua's support - promoter

SHABNAM DASTGHEIB
Last updated 19:50 03/07/2014

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Rotorua's Raggamuffin music festival's move to Auckland came as a surprise to some but the festival's promoter said waning local support was to blame.

Raggamuffin has been held since 2008, injecting millions of dollars into local economy and featuring artists like Shaggy, Sean Paul and Ziggy Marley.

It will now move to Auckland, the exact venue to be confirmed next week, and diversify to include hip-hop acts. 

Promoter Andrew McManus said Rotorua had been good to the festival but local support had decreased to the point where it was not sustainable to stay. There had been a 15 per cent drop in ticket sales over the past two years, he said. "The local community of Rotorua were not supportive as much as they previously were."

Mayor Steve Chadwick said the festival still had one year left on its five-year contract, and the district council learnt of the announcement today when the festival released its lineup. But McManus said the festival had been released from its contract and there were no hard feelings with the council. 

"The Rotorua council have been fantastic and elegant about the move. I'll still take other projects to the town in the future."

Chadwick said the community response had been one of sadness.

"Lots of locals loved it," she said.

"It wasn't just Aucklanders there as I have seen previous reports say."

McManus said: "We've given Rotorua a good go. We're delighted to be bringing Raggamuffin to Auckland and we hope our fans will continue to support the event, and we will be encouraging new fans to come along."

Raggamuffin in Auckland would be presented in partnership with Dawn Raid Entertainment.

This year's headline acts include UB40 and hip-hop star Ice Cube. Other artists performing are Fiji, Jamaica's Etana and Chronixx and England's Gappy Ranks who will be playing a set with P Money.

These acts will be joined by Kiwi artists, including Katchafire, Aaradhna, House of Shem and Tomorrow People.

Formerly a two-day event, the festival will now be a one-day affair on December 13.

McManus has been embroiled in scandal over the past few weeks in Australia where he was accused of avoiding tax, withholding funds from top acts and paying football players under the table. He said the accusations were part of a "character assassination". 

He would respond more fully in the Australian press this weekend.


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