Opinion: Youth safety comes first

By Katie Shevlin

1 comment
The New Year's Eve celebrations at Mount Main Beach attract thousands of revelers. PHOTO/FILE
The New Year's Eve celebrations at Mount Main Beach attract thousands of revelers. PHOTO/FILE

I've always felt New Year's Eve to be a bit overrated. You get dressed up, drink some champagne and count down to the start of a new year. Which is actually just another day.

But when I was growing up, it often felt like the biggest, most important social event of the year. Until it got to midnight, when I would think 'Oh, is that it?'

By the time the next New Year's Eve rolls around, though, you have long forgotten the disappointment of the previous year and repeat it all over again.

Tauranga city council will today decide on the future of the iconic New Year's Eve celebrations held every year on Mount Main Beach.

Since the story broke on the Bay of Plenty Times website yesterday, hundreds of online users have weighed in on the subject on social media. Many residents were lamenting the possible loss of the event, reminiscing about the fun that they had there when they were younger. Some locals, however, were pleased that the event could be canned, saying that it brings nothing but trouble.

Police had reported an increase in public disorder and aggression at last year's event. The council report outlining the pending decision states "police dealt with serious assaults regularly over the night. There were reports of groups of men taking advantage of vulnerable females. They also reported that vulnerable men were knocked to the ground."

While it would be a shame to lose the event, people's safety does come first.

Of course, we have to be realistic. It's New Year's Eve. People, especially young people, are wont to drink more than they can handle and some will probably cause trouble whether there is an organised location for it or not. It is highly likely, though, there would be fewer serious assaults if the event was dropped.

The council's city transformation manager has recommended holding a youth event at Baypark instead. This seems like a good idea, as it would be far easier to police. The location would mean the aftermath would probably be far less troublesome, too, as attendees would disperse, most likely by car, rather than spill into the surrounding areas and disturb residents.

If the beach celebrations are scrapped, I hope the council do hold another event.

Young people should have a place to learn the ritual that is New Year's Eve disappointment in safety.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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