Billionaire gaming industry tycoon and President of Valve Corporation, Gabe Newell is hosting a free concert and event in New Zealand, after being impressed by the nation’s hospitality. The 57-year old has been stuck in New Zealand since the global pandemic broke out. Gaben, as he is popularly known, was visiting the country for a holiday, after the release of Half Life: Alyx. However, the once the pandemic hit, New Zealand shut its borders, and he was unable to leave.
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Newell was travelling with Spanish racecar driver, Alex Riberas and the latter’s partner, Teagan Klein. The trio appeared on a local television broadcast to talk about their experiences. According to Klien, the trio had 48 hours to make a decision about whether they wanted to leave the country and chose to stay back.
Klein, Riberas and Newell are also organizing an event called ‘Thank You Aotearoa’ to show their appreciation to the nation for putting them up. It will be a free to attend concert and celebration in Auckland and features live performances by local musicians, workshops and activities, virtual reality stands and art installations. The event will take place on August 15.
The event page reads "Whilst being here they have been overwhelmed by the Manaakitanga and Aroha they have received from the people of Aotearoa"
Speaking about being away from home for so long, Newell said "The hardest part by far is being worried about friends and family who aren't in New Zealand. When I talk to people back in Seattle, it's a very strange time. It's very challenging. They're very isolated."
Newell and his friends seemed to have liked New Zealand quite a bit a and said that as they discovered more about the country during the lockdown, things became easier. He spoke about connecting with the people and accepting the decision to stay back.
"For me it's very much about the community spirit, the sense that everyone can come together and solve this super-challenging problem and be welcoming to us as, essentially, COVID refugees. There's the natural beauty, the fun stuff you can do, but it's the people that has really made our lives different."