With the approach of summer and the festive season, we can all anticipate the 'silly season' with its inevitable consequences from excess alcohol consumption and youthful exuberance.
Rural communities are not spared from these events and Mowhanau residents will be pleased to see the New Year liquor ban in place for the village, beach and domain. This ban has been in place for several years, and as a result the community has been spared the behaviour often seen at New Year in other beach communities around New Zealand.
While most of us enjoy a social drink, there is a group within society that seems incapable or unwilling to simply enjoy themselves without causing mayhem and annoying everyone else around them. Wanganui has a range of recreational areas such as rivers, lakes, parks and beaches that are popular destinations for many Wanganui residents and visitors from around New Zealand and overseas, but unfortunately the actions of a small minority detract from our enjoyment.
This type of behaviour is not limited to destination alone, but also the roads in between. Roads, such as Rapanui Road, are used by some as race tracks, causing potential danger to other users. A recent incident on Rapanui Road where a beer bottle was thrown at three local horse riders highlights the reckless behaviour that seems more common these days.
Many of our rural roads are popular with both cyclists and horse riders and all motorists need to exhibit extra care and vigilance. At this time of the year there are also many farming contractors moving tractors, harvesting equipment and trucks transporting hay, etc, on roads that are often narrow and with limited visibility, increasing the need for patience by other road users.
The rural community is a vigilant and observant one and as such any behaviour considered unacceptable will be noticed, will be reported and those responsible will be held accountable.
On a more positive note the recent announcement of a reduced speed limit around Westmere School is a welcome one; we now have three district schools with these speed zones which will provide a safer environment for our students. Why this policy is not extended to all rural schools is a mystery to me, but so are many decisions made by NZTA.
We are blessed in Wanganui with a plethora of recreational activities with enough areas for everyone to enjoy themselves, so let's as a community consider our actions and the effect on others before we act so we can all enjoy the summer without any tragic accidents. On behalf of the Wanganui Rural Community Board I would like to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a very prosperous New Year.