Valve businessman and co-founder, Gabe Newell, put together a free event in New Zealand next month. Newell, who is behind series like Half-Life, Counter Strike, Portal and DOTA, visited New Zealand with friends when COVID-19 arrived.
With the pandemic, Newell decided it was best to stay in New Zealand and work remotely. While he was originally there for a 10-day visit, he had 48 hours to decide whether to stay or leave before the borders closed at the start of the ban. He says his decision to stay in New Zealand while suspended is easy. “We continued to connect with more people and learn more about New Zealand, and that made it very easy.”
What made it difficult was worrying about friends and family back home in the United States. “It was difficult to miss people from home – for family members, for friends, but we are still very, very grateful and feel very happy here,” he said in an interview with the TVNZ1 Breakfast Show.
Newell and his friends, Spanish Aston Martin racing driver Alex Riberas and his partner Teagan Klein were impressed by New Zealand’s generosity during their stay. As a result, they decided to put together an event to thank the country for having it during the pandemic.
Free event in Auckland
The event is called “We Love Aotearoa” and is a free event and concert to be held in Auckland on August 15th.
The event page says:
“We Love Aotearoa is a group of friends from around the world who were based in Auckland when COVID-19 spread around the world. While they were here, they were overwhelmed by the Manaakitanga and Aroha that they received from the people of Aotearoa.
“These events are a thank you to the people of New Zealand for their friendliness and hospitality, and a tribute to the hard work that the 5 million team has done to get us where we are now.”
A full 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 where people can try out VR headsets.
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. there is a “Carnival with live music” as well as workshops and activities such as a silent disco, a runway for animal bikes, virtual reality experiences and interactive art installations. Alex Riberas and drift racing legend Darren Kelly will also be there with their cars to chat with fans. This part of the event is open to all ages.
From 4.30 p.m. there will be live performances by Ladi6, The Black Seeds, Clicks, Leisure, Frank Booker, JessB, Sola Rosa, Flamingo Pier and Tina Turntables. These performances will take place on two stages and there will be licensed bars and food trucks on site.
Because New Zealand is currently classified as low risk, this type of event can take place, but precautions still exist.