Kiwiburn has been cancelled amid Covid-19 uncertainty, with organisers saying the event had the potential to be unethical.
The festival was scheduled for January in Hunterville – but in a social media post on Wednesday the organisers said it would be irresponsible to hold the event, given the Whanganui DHB area is currently in the red.
"Various projections do not predict this DHB reaching the 90 per cent double vaccine target before the middle/end of January."
Organisers also noted the local iwi Ngāti Hauiti, who are in regular communication with Kiwiburn, have expressed concern over the event.
"Even if the local community did not have objections, the influx of 2300 people from all over the country poses an ethical question as it inevitably increases chances of exposure to the Hunterville area."
Organisers also took financial decisions into account, saying it was better to cancel now rather than later when all the money had been spent, and say it "did not seem prudent to continue spending money if the event is in serious danger of not going ahead".
While the organisers could recoup some of the Government money to cover the cancellation costs, they said the theme camp organisers – the voluntary "stages" set up by members of the community which make Kiwiburn unique – would not be eligible for the same money, which would be unfair.
Comments on the post were supportive of the "heart-breaking" decision with many people thanking organisers for being good partners to iwi and keeping vulnerable communities safe.
"Such a sad thing to see but thank you for making an informed and caring decision".
The cancellation comes amid large-scale uncertainty over festival season.
Tairawhiti iwi have called for Rhythm and Vines management to cancel the festival, fearing it will cause a Covid-19 outbreak in the region - which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.
Rhythm and Vines chief executive Kieran Spillane told iwi that Live Nation, R&V owners and management were keen to develop an ongoing relationship with the local iwi, admitting that they had been slow in engaging with iwi and a dialogue was well overdue.
Tai Kerekere, Parihimanihi Marae representative on the Te Aitanga a Māhaki board, said their marae and hapū were feeling aggrieved by the lack of a direct approach to them, as mana whenua of Waiohika.
Both parties agreed that the meeting was useful.