Ensure the most vulnerable among you has a parachute, Anglican vicar Bob Barnes advises young people heading off to a North Island music festival.
It is Wednesday morning and his tip is followed by a short prayer for the 27 Church of Nativity youth group members and their four adult leaders. They have all gathered outside the youth club room, Barnies, on the Nativity grounds. Beside them, two mini vans and a four-wheel-drive have been packed with carry bags, bed-rolls and all the other paraphernalia required by a group spending six days away together.
Nativity Youth are joining the 17,000-plus people expected to attend the 22nd Parachute Christian music festival.
It is held at Mystery Creek, near Hamilton, and this year's four-day event will feature 120 international bands sharing four separate stages and a common faith.
Following the 2012 canning of Auckland's Big Day Out concert, Parachute has become New Zealand's largest music festival. But it has always stood out from the rest, says Bob.
"It's a music festival without that bawdy stuff," he says.
Hannah Law, 16, one of five Nativity Youth members who attended the 2012 Parachute, agrees.
"It's an amazing atmosphere to be in . . . it's the best worship, it's so amazing."
Mary-Claire James, 17, has not been to Parachute before but likes the idea of using live music as a form of worship.
"It's a good way to connect with God.
"It's good for youth," she says. then adds: "Which doesn't mean it's not good for others, too, of course."
Her friends agree and say a 55-year-old parishioner at Nativity loves the festival and attends Parachute each year.
Tickets to the 2013 event are $128 each so they had to raise money to pay for those, fuel for the return journey, and the food and other expenses along the way. The youths are grateful to the Nativity Church parish and the wider Marlborough community for their support.
Sosaia Mesui, 15, Jesse Eising, 15, and Aidan Treston, 16, were in the firewood team, chopping donated, felled trees into fireplace-friendly sizes to fill 12 separate trailer loads that were sold.
"And we sold linen, did catering," Hannah says, "and cleaned people's showers."
Fundraising efforts were boosted by a $250 grant presented to Nativity Youth as runners-up in the 2012 Trustpower Educational and Child Youth Development Awards, and Marlborough Boys' College, which reduced travel expenses by loaning two mini vans. They are expected to return to Blenheim at 1am on Tuesday.
- The Marlborough Express