Managing the bar at a reggae festival on Mount Maunganui's Soper Reserve seven years ago, the last thing Glenn Meikle was thinking about was buying the festival.
With fewer than 2000 people bopping to the tunes coming off the stage set up by one woman, he thought it was too risky.
Meikle returned to help at the festival every year and watched it grow to become one of the biggest music festivals in the region.
It's no longer a one-day summer gig but a summer staple that brings in local and international party-goers and artists.
So when 2021 rolled around and the "for sale" sign popped up for the One Love Festival, he jumped.
But the love of music isn't the reason Meikle bought the festival, it was the love of people.
"We get a buzz off people getting a buzz."
Meikle is the director of the company Reggae Love, which was created this year after the popular festival came up for sale.
The metaphoric keys to One Love were officially handed over to Meikle this year, but it's a festival he's been part of since the very beginning.
Meikle also has experience running events as he and his right-hand-woman Lisa Te Huia were part of the organising team for Pāpāmoa East New Year event Exodus in 2011 and 2012.
"It was quite ground-breaking," Meikle says. "It all led to what's possible nowadays."
In 2014, Meikle had absolutely no intentions of being the event manager for the inaugural One Love festival.
"I just wanted to run the bars, I didn't want to be an event manager, I thought it was too risky.
"But buying it this time is a no-brainer because it's so well-established."
The reggae festival has gone from strength to strength in the past seven years and attracted sell-out crowds of 20,000 people to the Tauranga Domain for the past four years.
The initial line-up for next year's gig is already out with 12 international artists on board and three-quarters of the tickets already sold.
"As far as ticket sales go, it's the best it's ever been."
The festival started as a one-day event attracting 1500 to Soper Reserve in front of Brewer's Bar, where Meikle's restaurant The Rising Tide is now.
The winter version attracted 4000 people.
"It was done on a shoestring budget," Meikle says.
As the event grew, so did the event family but Te Huia has been involved since day one and worked with Meikle for 15 years.
Te Huia's role for the festival now involves taking care of the event side of things as the operations manager, executive administration, licensing and bar management.
But it didn't start like this.
She began working for Meikle as a bouncer at Brewers Bar before joining the bar team where she grew to run the many gigs the venue would host.
"A lot of the bands, the New Zealand bands, have played here," she says, including House of Shem and Sons of Zion.
"Katchafire, when they first played here, they weren't even known; 1814 played here before they were known."
Speaking to each other as they peep down memory lane, Meikle remembers Logan Bell, the lead singer of Katchafire, performing to no more than 20 people at the bar.
They laugh at the thought of the band that rakes in millions of listeners on Spotify today.
"From then, they sold out."
Te Huia remembers the first One Love Festival, and the propped up "kit-set" stage she set up by herself. She also remembers cringing as one of the artists jumped up and down on stage, hoping it wouldn't collapse.
"That's how events start," Meikle says. "You do them at low cost and build your way up."
And that is exactly what happened.
In 2015, the event, owned by Pato Entertainment until this year, moved to the Wharepai Domain with more than 5000 people anticipated to attend.
From 2016, it's been at the Tauranga Domain.
Before all this, Meikle was, and still is, the proud owner of Mount Brewing Co. Brewery. He started the business with his mother 25 years ago.
The successful national brand has grown 30 per cent year-on-year for the past five years.
The brewery was on Hewletts Rd for three years before moving to Newton St alongside the Rising Tide bar and restaurant, which Meikle has also owned for five years.
Part of the bar's business was running the bars at events like One Love, Bay Dreams and the cricket. Te Huia was in charge of all of this.
"We're not just a bar, our thing has been the bar, but we've always helped other departments, which is great now because we're the owners, we've already been building that relationship, and that's a big thing."
There's no "that's not my job" with everyone pitching in where they can to make it the best possible experience for festival-goers.
"We get a buzz off people getting a buzz, we don't get the buzz off of the gig."
Just five people are in the main team but this will build as more people come on closer to showtime.
Meikle says a strong force of women keeps the cogs turning so well behind the scenes and he has no plans to change any of it.
Te Huia, Shekira Parata, Takiri Butler, and Nicki Broughton are the leads on many things, including artists, production crew, security, bar staff, food vendors and management, and have been there basically since the beginning, he says.
They are just a few of the roughly 900 crucial people on the big days, many of which had been there for years, too.
"We're basically an event family, all the different departments know each other," Te Huia says.
"Using the same people every year, you become closer every year. It's like one big family and a reunion every year."
Te Huia says the staff keep coming back because of how much they love the vibe.
"It's not the money, one of my managers is on nearly $40 an hour at their own job, they don't need the money, they just like the vibe."
Many agencies come together to make the festival happen, including the council, police and the health board.
An evaluation report of 2019's event released last year found of the 20,797 people who attended the event, 17,996 were visitors to Tauranga who spent more than $7.2 million in the city in less than three days.
Meikle says he knows how much the hospitality sector loves One Love weekend with his own bar potentially turning over double profits because of the event.
The success of the event means there is nothing they plan on changing.
"We don't want to mess with the formula. It's been successful and people like it, so we're trying to keep it the same," he says.
Having worked on the bar in previous years Meikle knows the ins and out of the event and is already part of the family.
The only thing he doesn't know much about is the backstage operations which is why the same person who did it last year will be doing it again.
"Our plan is to keep the same staff, it's pretty much been the same staff working for the last seven years," he says.
However, looking into the future, he compared it to the success of the Rising Tide.
"You've got to change with the times. I think what's crucial is looking after the people that come to One Love and making sure we listen to them and to what they want.
"If you haven't got customers, you haven't got a business."
Buying the business is a somewhat official way of joining his family with his event family, despite them already being a part of it.
His two kids were born into and have grown up in the hospitality industry, working alongside their dad at events.
"They love it."
His wife, Virginia, was nine months pregnant with his daughter when the brewery opened 25 years ago, and his son was born two years later.
His daughter is now also the head brewer at Mount Brewing Co and his wife has been a crucial part of the bar's success, he says.
Taking on this new family he has their full support.
One Love has a sister event in Australia, Good Love, which Meikle now has 50 per cent ownership of.
Every year, One Love is around Waitangi Day, marking the birthday of the late reggae legend Bob Marley.
The two-day event will be held at the Tauranga Domain on January 29-30. Tickets are already on sale, and more artists are said to be added to the line-up that's been announced.
The initial line up
• International acts: J Boog, Fiji, Rebel Souljahz, Maoli, Kolohe Kai, Mike Love, Siaosi, Spawnbreezi, The Original Wailers, LaTasha Lee, Tenelle, and Stndrd.
• Local artists: Nesian Mystik, Sammy J, House of Shem, Ardijah, Tomorrow People, Che Fu and King Kapisi, Swiss, Tree, Common-Unity, NLC, Krisy Erin, Mikey Mayz, DJ Jayrasik, and DJ KG.
• Tickets from www.onelovefestival.co.nz.