Drunk students wreak havoc in Matua

By Michele McPherson

Drunken toga-clad students are being blamed for wreaking a trail of destruction through the streets of Matua as part of a drinking promotion organised by a national radio station.
The vandalism spree robbed 2-year-old twins of their favourite Christmas reindeer decoration and knocked an elderly man's letterbox to the ground - he is too frail to pick it up.
The fallout from "National Crate Day" celebrations, organised by radio station The Rock, has shocked the Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC), which plans to complain to the New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority.
The Matua damage is believed to have come from throngs of people dressed in togas who paraded through the suburb's streets while wheeling crates of beer behind them on Saturday night.
It is understood the group was gathering at Fergusson Park to celebrate National Crate Day.
Weka St resident Roz Irwin said some revellers tried climbing her family's front lawn Christmas display on Saturday night. The display had two giant inflatable Santas and a reindeer with fairy lights woven though it.
Later that night the reindeer, which was plugged into the house's electrical wiring and secured with tent pegs, was ripped out and stolen.
Mrs Irwin, a mother of twin toddlers, was gutted.
"We do it for the kids. We have a lot of people drive past and have a look.
"It's just gut-wrenching to think someone's callous enough to destroy someone else's pleasure.
"People are horrified and appalled that people would stoop to that level.
"There has been a tonne of letterboxes damaged and bottles smashed all over the road," she said.
In Levers Rd, neighbours of Mr Bunn saw the 90-year-old's letterbox being pushed off its post by three toga-cled revellers at 3am on Sunday.


The letterbox was too heavy for Mr Bunn to fix on his own, prompting help from neighbours - who described the vandals as "hooligans".
Mr Bunn was "annoyed" and said he saw a large group of people in togas walking down the street earlier in the night, wheeling crates of beer behind them.
The group are believed to have been university students who gather annually in Matua to party, according to Weka St residents.
Saturday was also National Crate Day, where people were encouraged to share crates of beer with friends.
The event was the brainchild of radio station The Rock, and gained more than 12,600 "attendees" and 14,000 "maybes" on a National Crate Day Facebook page.
Lion Nathan regional manager Isis Farrelly, who runs Brookfield Liquor King, said their sales of crate beer were "definitely up" at the weekend.
"On Friday we had a lot of boys come in, who would normally be bourbon or pack beer drinkers, buying crates," she said.
Ms Farrelly said although they were aware of "crate day" they chose not to promote it as they did not want to encourage excessive drinking.
National Crate Day was labelled "irresponsible" by ALAC. The organisation's executive officer Gerard Vaughan told the Bay of Plenty Times they planned to take the promotion to the New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority.
"Although The Rock promotion says 'we're certainly not encouraging trying to finish a whole crate on your own', comments on a Facebook page promoting the event indicated this was clearly the message some people took out of the day," Mr Vaughan said.
Comments on the Facebook page included: "I finished my crate (without help)", "Well I wasn't match fit. Comered about 7pm started at 11am", and "woke up with a chunk of flesh missing out of my hand, grazzes all over me and the bathroom was covered in spew... finished my crate in 4 hours, but after that she's blank".
Mr Vaughan said New Zealand already had a problem with binge drinking without these sorts of promotions glamourising such activities. Social networking sites were increasingly part of alcohol promotions, he said.
The Rock FM's national marketing manager Kristy Craig defended the promotion, saying the "drink responsibly" message was delivered at all times and broadcasting guidelines around alcohol were followed.
"All we were doing was connecting with our audience, with their mateship. Getting them to have a couple of beers, which is what people do around a barbecue anyway," Ms Craig said.
The Facebook page also had wall posts telling people not to drink a crate of beer if they were not "match fit".
Some of the commandments of "CRATE DAY 2010"

Thou shalt not get intoxicated to the point where it will ruin crate day for themselves and everyone else.
Thou shalt wear appropriate attire, ie: black singlet, stubbies, towel hat.
Thou shalt not eat anything that resembles a vegetable or salad.
Thou shalt have a radio handy between 15.00 and 18.00 on Crate Day to hear the best songs to enjoy a crate to.
Thou shalt not attempt to consume a whole crate if not match fit.
Thou shalt always keep rule one top of mind, to ensure we continue the Crate Day legacy for years to come.
- Source: Official National Crate Day Facebook page

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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