No Coastella for the Coast in 2020

The Black Seeds perform at Coastella 2018
Coastella directors Paul Brown & Gerry Paul
Coastella Music Festival directors Paul Brown and Gerry Paul have announced that Coastella will not take place in 2020.


Coastella Music Festival directors Paul Brown and Gerry Paul have announced that Coastella will not take place in 2020. The boutique festival was first staged in 2016 and over four years has attracted over 10,000 people to the stunning grounds and natural amphitheatre of Southwards Car Museum on the Kapiti Coast.

Trinity Roots, The Phoenix Foundation, The Black Seeds, Don McGlashan, The Beths, Soaked Oats and RAW Collective are just a few of the local and national acts to have shared the stage with musicians from Australia, Ireland, Holland, Brazil and Japan. Several of the acts also performed and workshopped at local primary schools around Kapiti, as part of the Coastella Community Music Initiative.

Since its inception, Coastella has contributed over $1 million to the local economy and while the festival attendance grew steadily in the first three years, numbers decreased in 2019. The directors attribute this to a rise in regional events - with concerts like Eminen selling 47,000 tickets a week from the Coastella date - and the weather also played its part with cyclone warnings forecast for the festival date, although these did not eventuate. With over 60% of attendees coming from Wellington, two car accidents on SH1 also left festival goers in traffic queues for over two hours before the festival and resulted in many turning around.

Paul and Gerry started the festival in 2016 with a vision to create an iconic event in Kapiti that brought the community together, was family friendly, had great music, diverse food offerings and craft beer. Paul Brown says “It has been like a baby we have nurtured and put our heart and soul into the past few years, but we took quite a loss this year and it’s not sustainable under this model. We are not ruling out changing it to biannual, but need to figure out what that could look like”.

The pair both have full time jobs outside of Coastella with Paul operating his own award-winning craft cider brewery, South Cider, and Gerry recently being appointed as Festival Director of New Zealand’s largest street festival, CubaDupa.

Gerry Paul comments “We want Coastella be an event we are really proud of. The aspects that people loved were the multiple stages, eclectic programming and diverse creative zones, the efficient transport options, the Community Music Initiative, the Mihi Whakatau performed by local Kaumatua, youth performances - the whole Coastella experience. While we could cut back on some of these areas, it would then turn into the same thing as so many other festivals and that wasn’t what we set out to do.”

The pair are hugely grateful for the support given over the past four years, receiving funding from the Kapiti Coast District Council, as well as sponsorship from local brewery, Tuatara, Havana Coffee Works,

Air Chathams, D4 Bars and Restaurant proprietor Dermot Murphy, NZME and Radio Active. Generous volunteers also contributed hugely to the festival, with over 120 working at each event and Coastella winning the Rising Star Award at the Wellington Airport Community Awards for volunteer contribution.

“Many of our stakeholders will be disappointed, especially the public,” comments Paul Brown “but the reality is that events are hugely expensive to stage. People look at it and think you’re making money hand over fist, but even a break-even scenario is extremely hard to reach. It’s the “use it or lose it” scenario, so while a lot of people gave us tremendous support, we just didn’t get the ticket sales that we needed.”

Coastella are looking to investigate different models including a joint venture partnership, crowd-funding, setting up as a not-for-profit and whether February is the right month for a festival in Kapiti. They urge people to sign the mailing list via their website ​​ and Facebook page to keep informed with future decisions and announcements.

Written by


5 Sep 2019