An annual camp for gay people in the lower North Island is set for a windfall as more support pours in for the 40-year-old event.

The Rangitikei District Council is looking into providing funding towards Vinegar Hill's lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender New Year's celebrations in the Manawatu/ Rangitikei District.

Hunterville councillor Dean McManaway said the annual camp has had a huge economic spin-off for Hunterville.

"Campers come into town and spend a lot of money during the two weeks they are here.''

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McManaway said a shop owner had come to him and said the council should help fund the camps because they were so good for business in the district.

The Manawatu District Council - the Vinegar Hill site geographically straddles both Manawatu and Rangitikei districts - has provided funding over the past few years for portaloos, a shower block, sewage disposal and security guards.

"I think it's time we invested as well. [The campers] invest hugely in Hunterville and it's time for us to lend a hand financially.''

The special celebration has been going for more than 40 years. It had started when a group of gay men first gathered at Putai Ngahere Reserve alongside the Rangitikei River to enjoy a peaceful holiday.

Rangitikei District Councillor Dean McManaway.
Rangitikei District Councillor Dean McManaway.

The camp has evolved into a celebration of diversity with events like fashion in the field, a softball tournament and the queens' cocktail party.

In the early days entertainers on the night would perform on the roof of the old toilet block and their "stage" was lit with car headlights.

Campers were now encouraged to party safely with a test tent provided by the NZ AIDS Foundation where free condoms and quick and easy HIV tests were available.

The Manawatu District Council was constantly working to improve the facilities in all of its reserves.

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"And I think it is time the Rangitikei council helped out as well."

Funding for the Vinegar Hill New Year celebration camp would be discussed by the council next month, McManaway said.