Fire, Music and Hope
January 20 2020 by Scott Kennedy
Fire, Music and Hope
On January 1st, 2020 Queenstown woke up to a whole new world. While the dusty remnants of the last decade lingered, it was a blanket of smoke that confronted our new year. In that moment Queenstown woke up to the reality of the disaster that was unfolding an ocean away. The Australian bush fires, for many, finally hit home.
Images of homes engulfed in flame, raging infernos decimating tracks of bush and leaving in its wake a legacy of death, destruction and hardship. It’s almost too much to take. The feeling of helplessness can creep in like the fog and pull you under.
But just when it feels like there is nothing to be done - local musician Shay Muddle had a simple idea: gather some musos to play some tunes, pass the hat and raise some money for our Aussie whanau.
Soon enough an event came together and, with help and support from the community, Wakatipu Waiata For Australia was born. Products were donated to be auctioned off, a crowd funding page created, and an impromptu music festival - conceived, nurtured and presented in less than a week. These things usually take months - but not when it’s something this important.
Help came thick and fast - damn near every musician in town, events professionals, community leaders, sponsors; all of them working for free, doing whatever they could to help. It was a no brainer for me - my brother-in-law calls NE Victoria home. He’s 20km from the fires and since the start of 2020 has helplessly watched a firestorm bare down on the home he built with his bare hands and hard graft. The fire hasn’t taken it - yet - but Conrad and his family are still evacuated and waiting…
The team who put this gig together are just a side note. The people that deserve the praise are all of you - our amazing and generous community who came out to the show, opened your wallets and your hearts. You’re the ones that are going to make the real difference. All the funds will go directly to the Lions Club in Australia, they’re on the ground, at the face of this - they know which communities need our help the most.
Here in NZ we know that disasters don’t end when the news cycle moves on - just ask the folks in Christchurch… our Aussie friends are in for a long fight. As Queenstowners we wanted to send them a message - a message of hope, aroha and support. A message that we have their back, that we want to help shoulder some of the load and that they aren’t alone. And I think after Sunday, they won’t just know that, they’ll feel it.