Arrests a downside of big night

By Sandra Conchie

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IN THE GROOVE: Thousands of revellers packed in like sardines saw in their New Year dancing on the sand in front of the iHeartRadio Beach Stage at the Mount main beach.PHOTOS/ANDREW WARNER
IN THE GROOVE: Thousands of revellers packed in like sardines saw in their New Year dancing on the sand in front of the iHeartRadio Beach Stage at the Mount main beach.PHOTOS/ANDREW WARNER

Western Bay's police chief is praising the majority of New Year's revellers after a relatively uneventful night, but says there were a number of alcohol-related arrests.

Tens of thousands of revellers flocked to Mount Maunganui and downtown Tauranga.

An estimated 47,000 poured into Marine Parade and the main Mount streets, described by one Welcome Bay couple as "like watching a nest of ants" swarming into the area. Mount Maunganui switched into New Year's Eve party mode early, and later in the night about 5000 young people danced on the sand in front of the iHeartRadio Beach Stage.

With a family-friendly carnival atmosphere, many revellers were in high spirits. Local bars, cafes and restaurants and the camping ground were jam-packed. There was a high police presence, especially in Mount Maunganui, and security was tight with Red Badge security manning entry gates and checking bags for contraband.

Thousands of cars went through one alcohol checkpoint set up on both sides of the road outside Tauranga Bridge Marina and at least 15 drink-drivers were processed up to 5am yesterday.

Western Bay police area commander Inspector Clifford Paxton said there were 43 arrests up to 4am yesterday - 21 of those for disorderly behaviour and 16 for fighting, seven of whom were juvenile offenders.

However, Mr Paxton said the number of arrests this year needed to be put into context when compared with the large majority of the 47,000 revellers whose New Year celebrations were trouble-free, and the 52 arrests made during the last New Year's period.

"As usual a minority of people prevented the festivities being trouble-free."

Yesterday, Tauranga Hospital clinical director Dr Derek Sage - who worked both this and last year's New Year's Eve shifts - said: "From midnight to 8am this morning we had 57 patients which is a heavy night and is busier than last year.

"That, though, is in line with our increasingly higher average number of daily presentations. If you go back a few years, in 2002 we would have expected around 90-115 patients a day, now that range is consistently around 140-160."

Tauranga Hospital Emergency Department had 175 presentations on New Year's Eve and 126 up to 4pm on New Year's Day.

"Last night's presentations were mostly alcohol- or drug-related. Patients were predominantly in the 15-30 age group and the first presentations of the evening started around 9.30pm. There was a high percentage of out-of-towners boosting the numbers."

Dr Sage said Tauranga Hospital staff had done a superb job under high pressure.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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