IT took Stuart Clumpas seven years' hard graft and deep reserves of boyish optimism to build Scotland's biggest outdoor music event, T In The Park, into a highly successful annual institution. That same work ethic and dogged business sense, allied to a forceful and decisive personality, have likewise underpinned Clumpas's brusque stewardship of the rest of his considerable 20-year-old business empire, the most visible part of which is Scotland's most influential club-sized live music venue, King Tut's in Glasgow.

So when Stuart Clumpas this week told me that, within the next month or so, he and his young family will leave their Scottish homeland for an indefinite spell in New Zealand, any surprise on my part was tempered by the certainty that this decision will have been taken with much thought and careful preparation. Not the least

of this has been Clumpas's recent sale of 50% of his non-T In The Park business to his Irish co-partner in that festival, as well as the duo's joint Leeds and Cheltenham-based V-branded festivals, Dennis Desmond.

One of life's strong-minded driving forces rather than one of its helpless back-seat passengers, Clumpas is typically bullish when he reels off a list of positive reasons why he's leaving Scotland. Indeed, this list almost equals the number of decidedly non-executive, far-from-vintage old cars - seven in total - that Clumpas enjoys tinkering with, playing in, and occasionally racing examples of in historic events at tracks from Snetterton to Knockhill.

''I didn't take the chance of a year off after university,'' he says. ''I haven't had a full summer break for seven years. My children have a year left before starting school, so their education isn't at risk of being screwed up.

''We've visited New Zealand often since 1993 and we know it's similar to Scotland in many pleasant ways, and with a can-do pioneer attitude, too. I remember during that first year out there, saying to my wife, Judith: 'If T In The Park fails, we can always emigrate here.'

''Of course, T In The Park did work, with this year's event being the culmination of a very successful 12 months for the whole company.

''I'm very grateful right now for having some financial security. I'm also very lucky to be leaving behind a capable 16-strong staff, led by Geoff Ellis and Dave McGeachan, who'll be able to grow further if I'm not hanging around in the background.''

However, looking ahead to the immediate future, Clumpas has foreseen exactly how his departure is likely to be billed in Scotland's tabloids. With annoyance and a heavy heart, he can see those less-than-positive headlines now: Mr T In The Park Driven Away From Scotland By Horror Robbery.

The robbery in question took place in the immediate aftermath of T

In The Park 2000 at the Clumpas family home in rural Stirlingshire, immediately adjoining the converted

stables which house Clumpas's business. Intruders stole a charity collection of several thousand pounds in cash. Thereafter, Clumpas found himself and his family involuntarily thrust into something akin to a reality-TV soap opera, uncomfortably illuminated by the news media's voyeuristic impulses.

''Robberies happen to lots of people,'' Clumpas says phlegmatically. ''I wasn't hurt, or beaten up. Nor were my kids. It wasn't horrific, when it could have been. Worse things happened during the six years I ran a nightclub in Dundee - like the night eight drunk marines came in and went completely mental, with glasses flying everywhere, only stopping when military police arrived.

''Yes, having been robbed at home does play games with your mind, but the press angle on it afterwards gave me more grief. It was hurtful. It upset me. I couldn't blame the papers for covering it, but I got annoyed when they didn't tell the truth.

''One or two specific journalists made my life a misery by simply inventing stuff about what happened. They lied. It was fiction.

''Suddenly going from Mr T In The Park to Mr Man Who Got Robbed meant the past 18 months have been frustrating - I'm forever having to explain what actually happened to everyone I meet, when I really don't want the rest of the world standing next to me in my living room seeing what happened on that night.

''But good came of the robbery in that it showed me anything can happen. It's impossible to see tomorrow.''

Clumpas had already had some experience of this when he was diagnosed as suffering from Crohn's

disease, a debilitating lifelong inflammatory condition affecting the digestive system. ''Stress doesn't exactly help my health, which is mediocre but stable, and not working my butt off for a spell so as to be at one with the world may help my body to fight it more effectively.''

However, as someone who has seen Stuart Clumpas in combative day-to-day operation at first hand over a number of years, I know that he relishes certain types of stress - not the least of which is proving people wrong. Especially people who think they know better. Part of his justifiable pride in T In The Park, for instance, derives from having vanquished the scepticism first shown towards the event by cynical music journalists like me.

It's thus no surprise that the ever-voluble Clumpas is exiting Scotland firing from the hip, targeting criticism at two groups of so-called experts: the medical establishment and the Scottish Arts Council.

On the health front, Clumpas is as grateful to his Glasgow GP as he is scathing about folk higher up the medical hierarchy. ''My GP has been brilliant about a non-traditional antibiotic treatment that we stumbled on by accident.

''It's been researched in the US, but not here, so of course the medical establishment have pooh-poohed it as quackery.''

It's the public funds-disbursers of Manor Place who really cop it, however. ''The Scottish Arts Council came to me for advice and opinion, and I was happy to give it to them, free of charge. But their massive funding of opera is shameful, a disgracefully high percentage. And what operas and opera singers of world excellence has Scotland produced? None. Yet in pop and rock, we routinely create a range of Scottish performers who feed a large audience here and abroad.

''As many people go to King Tut's in a year as Scottish Opera. The SAC's funding should be split in two; part for the preservation of dead historic forms - opera - and part for promoting new musics.

''I also remember flying back to Edinburgh from London for an SAC meeting that had been cancelled - and no-one had thought it necessary to phone and tell me. It wasn't personally offensive, but given the industry I was trying to represent, it was dismissive, patronising, and condescending to thousands of people - and it wouldn't have happened if I'd been the chairman of Scottish Opera.''

Instead, Clumpas has been the figurehead of a company, DF Concerts, that has this year diversified into fresh and disparate musical pastures. ''With Radio Clyde and Irn Bru we set up an outdoor day for 25,000 pop kids, Live And Loud, in Bellahouston Park. It went well, and safely, the only problem being 45-minute queues to get in. Next year, they'll be 15-minute queues.

''We did T On The Fringe in Edinburgh, which was an opportunity to present flagship music, as well as

dabble in the esoteric and the left-of-centre. It's always about pushing the parameters.

''I know that's what we've done over the years with T In The Park, setting new standards for everyone in festival organisation, presentation, and safety without harming the more fluid nature of the festival aesthetic.

''We've also done big Hampden gigs with Robbie Williams, and The Eagles. King Tut's has hit a new peak, and T In The Park is way beyond whatever I expected. But over the past two years, as things have got bigger, I've been denied the most enjoyable aspect of the business: being able to see startling new acts close-up at Tut's.

''My T In The Park weekend isn't about running a gig, it's about operating a building site and managing a small town with 30,000 people in it. It's scary. I've only ever wanted to be a concert promoter, not the mayor of Perth.

''Now I'm closing one chapter of my life and I'm looking at the rest as an open book. My 16 staff are moving from an office that comfortably holds only 10 people to two floors above King Tut's, which is perfect. I'm leaving everything in good shape.''

HE ADDED: ''Whether my move to New Zealand is permanent or not, I don't know. Whatever's appropriate, I'll do it. Aviation was my first love as a boy, and I've bought the Ford Fiesta of the air, a Piper Cherokee, to get my pilot's licence in. All being well, I hope to fly alongside the plane's ferry-pilot as far as Singapore, say - I've the chance to fly at 250mph, 3000ft above the Pyramids.

''My racing MG Midget will be going over in a container. New Zealand is progressive and forward-thinking, with a good climate. There are places called Ben Nevis and McTavish Creek next to ones with Maori names. Carpe diem.''

And gaun yersel. Scotland will be a much quieter place without you, Mr 3000ft In The Air, and a bit worse off. Haste ye back and berate us with a new set of opinions soon.