Alcohol dilutes New Year's fun

By Amy Shanks, Doug Laing

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Younger people with too much access to alcohol appeared to be the problem child of New Year celebrations, as Hawke's Bay welcomed 2013 in the spirit of traditions established since the millennium party 13 years ago.

The major problem was highlighted at Waimarama which, like other beaches throughout the country, was a magnet for those aged from their late teens to mid-20s.

Officer in charge of policing at the beach, Senior Constable Alan Daly, of Clive, said intoxication was a major factor in arrests and other issues.

"It was reasonably busy out here, with about half a dozen arrests for threats, disorders, assault on police and breach of the liquor ban," Mr Daly said.

"For us, definitely, the big problem is alcohol.

"There are a lot of young ones who are drinking, obviously it's a bit of a concern that they have access to the alcohol.

"Parents have got to play their part in making sure teenagers are safe."

"The thin blue line gets spread pretty thin, so these people need to be responsible for their actions."

Hawke's Bay's biggest celebrations were on Napier's Marine Parade, where at least 20,000 gathered in the four hours before Mayor Barbara Arnott wished them all the best and climbed a few steps on the Sound Shell stage to ring in the New Year with a few chimes on the Veronica Bell.

What had been mainly an alcohol-free atmosphere changed as families dispersed and the intoxicated people began to appear, some featuring among about a dozen arrests made in Napier mainly after midnight.

One police officer calculated about half the night's arrests in Napier were made in the Marine Parade and city area, and about half in the West Quay bar quarter.


 


Most were for liquor ban breaches and disorderly behaviour, and most had been released  soon after daybreak, by which time streets were littered with cans and bottles.

Napier event organiser Peter Mooney, who recalled the may hem of Napier celebrations of the 1960s and 1970s, said the reviving of the public event in 2000 appeared to have set standards and trends, and most people were present to enjoy the entertainment and atmosphere.

The package provided by Hamilton group Monroes, including a member who been part of the Y2K welcome, opened at 8.30pm with an hour-long Katy Perry set for the youngsters, before launching into a programme more suitable for  adults, culminating in the traditional fireworks display at midnight.


Police watching for drink-driving found no offenders during the night at Waimarama, where a temporary ban on liquor in public places was in force, but Mr Daly said a couple were caught as they hit the road later yesterday morning.

In Napier, three people were arrested for drink driving in an early-afternoon check on Monday.

It was a hectic night for medical staff at Hawke's Bay Hospital's Emergency Department, where intoxication accounted for 90 per cent of accidents and injuries.

In a 24-hour period, 138 people were treated, assessed, admitted or discharged, 27 of whom were brought in after midnight.

There were a number of patients suffering assault-related injuries.

The final tally was down on Boxing Day, which saw 157 people pour through the doors of ED, but up on the usual daily count of 110 people.

ED was still very busy yesterday, prompting a reminder for people to see their GP as a first point of call.

They could also call Healthline on: 0800 611 116, for free advice.

Police in Gisborne reported just three arrests overnight, despite huge crowds, including more than 30,000 at the Rhythm and Vines music festival.

Area Commander Inspector Sam Aberahama said they were for an alleged assault at BW Camping Ground and drug and alcohol related events at the festival.

The major disappointment was the deliberate lighting of several small fires at the camp, he said.

Police were much busier in the traditional New Year's Eve hotspots of Bay of Plenty and the Coromandel Peninsula, where a combined total of more than 300 arrests was reported.

In Whitianga, where the population swelled to many more than its usual 4100, there were 118 arrests, police said, while 109 were arrested at Whangamata.

There were 91 arrests in Bay of Plenty, mostly of teenagers, many of whom had apparently too-easy access to alcohol, said police spokesman Inspector Scott Fraser. Police reported relatively trouble-free nights in the main centres, with just 34 arrests reported by Wellington police.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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