30 Years!

There can be no doubt we are living in confusing times. The social pressures alone are enough to start one thinking about living an alternative lifestyle. Already many people are leaving the cities to live on the land, simply because they can no longer afford the costs of urban life.

Let us take a look at city life, the frantic rush and bustle on the streets, all that traffic and factories with all their pollution, noise and waste, and cynical exploitation by big business. And where are you? In the midst of the frenzied grime, paying high rent or struggling to cope with mortgage payments. Food and heating costs have rocketed, and we know they can only go up. You are working as many hours as you can to pay for city life, with little time for leisure, even less time to get to know your children, or to spend a few days with friends. Altogether it’s a vicious circle, a struggle for survival, with no time to think and be oneself. No wonder that crime is on the increase and mental institutions are overcrowded. If you haven’t fallen victim to one of these social ills, then you could be facing a coronary in your efforts to maintain the pace.


We are using up our natural resources at an ever increasing rate and they are not going to last for ever. In fact we are abusing our planet woefully. Mother earth will not tolerate this continued rape, and is groaning under the burden of unenlightened man. Consider this and ask yourself, “Is this a natural way of life, is this how we were meant to live?” In all truth we have entered a depression, and are fast reaching a stage, not only of economic collapse, but a point where our very survival is threatened. Now, more than ever before, there is a need and a growing desire for people to learn to live outside the collapsing economic and social system, with its greed and avarice, and it’s denial of individuality. .[32]”

This quote is by one Peter Terry. one of the main organizers of the legendary (although I’d never heard of them) Nambassa Festivals in the 1970s, and early 80s in NZ.  This quote above is from the 1976-77 Nambassa Newsletter, and its astounding how it can be 30 years old and read like it was written yesterday.  I don’t know if this means it shows a remarkable vision for the future, or just proves that cliches never die.


These festivals were huge even by modern standards, the three-day festival in 1979 near Waihai attracted 75,000 people, making it bigger than today’s Big Day Out.  I’ve been spending a fair amount of mental energy lately trying to work out what it is about our generation that makes us unable to gather the same sense of urgency and fun with our politics.  Whatever environmental and political issues they were arguing about then seem only worse now.  Its quite astounding that the on one hand the political and technological posturing of the Hippie movement has proven to be highly accurate and the apparent radical gestures of the 70s are now becoming mainstream, (think power generation and design),  and on the other the cultural cynicism of the movement that grew in the 80s, which was really a cynicism of fashion, has erased the cultural space to appreciate the importance of these movements.

Have a look at the Nambassa info on wikipedia, and keep an eye out for a new website been made for Nambassa with all the old archival material.


All photos care of Nambassa Trust and Peter Terry


One Reply to “30 Years!”

  1. yes! nambassa! why hasn’t ANYBODY ever heard of it? bigger than woodstock. dizzy gillespie himself played at one of them! according to the film archive they are going to re-release the original documentary soon-ish. there was a falling out between the organisers and it got pulled for a while. it happens unfortunately.

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