Businessman and co-founder of Valve, Gabe Newell has put together a free event next month in New Zealand. Newell, who has been behind series such as Half-Life, Counter Strike, Portal and DOTA was visiting New Zealand with friends when COVID-19 hit.
With the pandemic, Newell decided it was best to stay in New Zealand and work remotely. While originally there for a 10-day visit, when the lockdown started he had 48 hours to decide whether to stay or go before the borders were closed. He says his choice to stay in New Zealand during the lockdown was an easy one. "We've continued to connect with more people and discover more things about New Zealand, and that's made it very easy."
What made it difficult was worrying about friends and family back home in the U.S. "It was tough, missing the people from home - for the family members, for the friends, but we're still very, very grateful and feeling extremely lucky to be here," he said in an interview with TVNZ1 Breakfast show.
Newell and friends, the Spanish Aston Martin racer Alex Riberas and his partner Teagan Klein were impressed with New Zealand’s generosity during their stay. As a result, they’ve decided to put together an event to thank the country for having him during the pandemic.
Free Event in Auckland
The event is called ‘We Love Aotearoa’ which is a free event and concert taking place on August 15th in Auckland.
The event page says:
"We Love Aotearoa is a group of friends from around the world who found themselves based in Auckland as COVID-19 spread throughout the globe. Whilst being here they have been overwhelmed by the Manaakitanga and Aroha they have received from the people of Aotearoa.
"These events are a thank you to the people of New Zealand for being so kind and welcoming, and also an acknowledgment of the hard work that 'the team of 5 million' have gone through to get us to where we are now."
A Whole Day of Live Music and Activities
If you’re lucky enough to be in New Zealand right now, the event will include everything from food trucks to live music, workshops and art installations. There will also be virtual reality stands for people to try out VR headsets.
From 11am to 3pm, there will be a “carnival of live music” as well as workshops and activities including a Silent Disco, Animal Cycle Roller Rink, Virtual Reality experience and interactive art installations. Alex Riberas and drift-racing legend Darren Kelly will also be at the event with their cars to chat with fans. This part of the event will be open to all ages.
From 4.30pm onwards, there will be live performances from Ladi6, The Black Seeds, Clicks, Leisure, Frank Booker, JessB, Sola Rosa, Flamingo Pier and Tina Turntables. These performances will take place across two stages and there will be licensed bars and food trucks on-site.
As New Zealand is deemed low risk now, this kind of event can go ahead but precautions are still in place.