Mark ‘Yonderman’ Stirling’s lengthy association with Burning Man began while he was living in Reno, Nevada doing his PhD. He and his partner Jane discovered Burning Man by accident in 1994 while on a camping trip in the Black Rock Desert. Mark became the New Zealand Regional representative and after a few years, decided to stage the first regional burn in New Zealand. At that time, few New Zealanders had actually attended Burning Man, so he chose the South Island’s Visionz festival as it had a similar emphasis on Burning Man philosophies such as ‘leave no trace’ and subsistence culture.
The early 2004 event was met with great enthusiasm from the participants, who had either heard of Burning Man previously, had seen the various pamphlets and posters around the festival, or had just decided to join in on the fun.
The overall success of the inaugural New Zealand regional event encouraged Mark to stage stand-alone burns the following two years in the South Island, and attracted approximately 200 people. Mark co-ran these events with Grant ‘Tribalman’ Knowles, a friend and local drum-maker/festival organiser.
In mid-2006, amidst the planning for the 2007 event, a group of highly enthused, motivated burners joined with Yonderman to form an organisational structure and bring the event north. The event was aptly named Megamorphosis, which means Massive Change. Kiwiburn took off to become a significant regional sensation, and has created a community of burners for burners and friends. A team of devoted and talented Kiwiburners from around the country now organise Kiwiburn.
These people had a vision of what a New Zealand burner event could be like, and the people who came not knowing a thing about the culture of Burning Man continue to embrace it, and want more. So much pride has been exhibited among the attendees, that this amazing event could happen here in New Zealand, and it gets better every year. Major thanks go out to the locals – the firemen, the farmers, and the local council representatives – who come to the event and contribute hugely. Kiwiburn would not be as successful without them.
New Zealanders have since readily embraced the concept and spectacle of Burning Man and Kiwiburn. For more information and to keep up to date with the New Zealand regional group, write to Mark Stirling at [email protected] and check out the rest of our website.
We hope that many more local and overseas guests will join us in New Zealand for future Kiwiburns – bigger, brighter, louder, friendlier and more magical then ever before. Information and reviews of subsequent Kiwiburns can be found in the annual Afterburn Report, and a selection of photos and videos can be viewed in our Gallery pages.