Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Police brace for drunk, out-of-control teens

File photo /  Dean Purcell
File photo / Dean Purcell

Rotorua police last night raided a series of drunken bashes as the town braced for teenagers to descend on a massive, underage party whose invitation went viral on Facebook.

The 17-year-old girl organising the party was friended by 1300 people and she boasted to the Herald on Sunday that hundreds were expected to attend. But police warned teens they would shut down the party.

Emergency room doctors and bereaved families expressed alarm saying the party was a dangerous example of New Zealand's teen culture of binge drinking.

The party came just a day after the funeral of Wairarapa teenager Robbie Cameron, who died after drinking eight beers with family at home. Cameron's grieving mother Sue advised parents to trust their instincts and check on their children.

Kings College student James Webster died two years ago after drinking a bottle of vodka at a birthday party.

His uncle Donald Webster had a strong but simple message for the boozed teens of Rotorua: "This is crazy. Don't people ever learn?"

Last night's Black and White BYO alcohol party in Rotorua was organised by Waiariki Institute of Technology tourism student Tishan Mihaka. She invited 150 friends but expected many more and told police to stay away so people could "have a good time".

Wellington emergency department doctor Paul Quigley said Mihaka was "reckless".

"That's not just a few friends having a good time, that's almost asking for trouble," he said. "These big parties do create extra work for emergency services."

Alcohol Advisory Council general manager of strategy Andrew Hearn said they had concerns about any large event where alcohol was being consumed and was not well supervised. However, Mihaka was unrepentant.

She knew the party was "not fully legal" but she had organised security guards and all those attending had permission slips signed by their parents saying they could drink alcohol. A $2 door fee was to pay for lighting and music.

Mihaka was not worried about getting in trouble with police and said it was not her fault if people overindulged. "It's their own damn decision to drink."

Senior Sergeant Ewan Dunsmuir, of Rotorua, said if under-18s were drinking at the party it was not legal. Police inquiries had indicated up to 300 people, some aged as young as 14, planned to attend.

- Herald on Sunday

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