The Mount needs a public New Year's Eve event like the fireworks at The Strand pictured here. Photo / George Novak A_311219gn25bop.JPG
Mount Maunganui used to be one of the best places to be on New Year's Eve.
Marine Parade would be closed and thousands of party-goers from all over the country would descend on the Mount for the annual council-run concert on the beach.
Giant stages were erected for entertainment including local bands and the iconic Miss Mount Maunganui event.
I remember it clearly. The fireworks display would go off at midnight and crowds of party people would chant together a countdown to the New Year.
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My friends and I would pick a place to celebrate, usually somewhere down the Mount, before walking to the beachfront to see in the New Year.
Yes, there was the odd drunken incident, but those involved were immediately put in the paddy wagon until they sobered up or taken to spend the night in the cells.
Mostly, everyone was in high spirits and trouble-free. The police always did a good job of enforcing the rules and keeping people safe.
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The last time I was at the council-run beachfront event was in 2015. I was 25 and had entered Miss Mount Maunganui.
It was the first – and only – time I wore a bikini, high heels and make-up to the beach. But I felt good. It was a "New Year, new me" decision after a break-up.
I didn't place, but I found my confidence again, alongside some other awesome women who entered for the same reason.
But the party died in 2016.
The decision was made to replace the event with fireworks on the other side of the bridge in Tauranga CBD and a silent disco, which was a huge flop.
That was on the back of a few bad years, including a riot back in 2001 but most recently – and most seriously – allegations of young party-goers being sexually abused.
The risks were judged too great, the event was canned.
The Mount has been left with no public New Year event ever since and the past few years have been just dead on December 31.
Don't get me wrong, I agree with the council's decision to cancel the event at the time after such serious allegations.
But I believe it's now time to bring a public event back to the Mount.
I know it won't be easy, but we have huge event organisation and creative talent here the council can learn from and lean on.
It will be worth it to bring back one of New Zealand's more iconic parties.