A few teens with entertainment in mind other than what was on stage are being blamed for disturbance as an estimated 20,000 people took part in Hawke's Bay's biggest New Year's Eve celebration on Napier's Marine Parade.

Fights among young people spread along Marine Parade from the front of the Soundshell zone where the celebration took place, with Ahuriri Maori Wardens stepping in to resolve problems before a police team arrived for the night.

Long-serving Maori warden Zita Smith said one instigator, aged about 17, was removed by police but there was also a group of young girls agitating.

"It was not good for Napier," she said. "It spoilt everything."


While the skirmishes and slagging-matches riled some punters at the family night out and the traditional fireworks display, organisers said the it was little more than a nuisance.

Event management's Peter Mooney, who pitched a promotions career around reviving New Year's Eve revelry on the Parade to seeing in the new millennium on the night of December 31, 1999, and bowed out with Sunday's night's extravaganza, said police were quickly on to any disorder and "did a good job calming things down".

Mr Mooney said he understood from a debrief which started about 9am yesterday that police had not had to make any arrests apart from removing two people for "disturbing the peace."

The behaviour of some young people attracted attention on social media, and one teenager told Hawke's Bay Today he had seen "lots of fights" , but a police Eastern District command centre sergeant said the overnight staff had not reported anything serious.

"They were pretty pleased with the behaviour," he said. "And we didn't have any unusual
numbers going through the cells."

One who was particularly pleased was Napier City councillor Graeme Taylor, who hadn't been to Marine Parade festivities for several years.

He said he and wife Wendy had usually been out of town on New Year's Eve but a couple of months ago he jumped at chance of an unusual New Year's honour when Mayor Bill Dalton asked if he could stand in to ring the Veronica Bell at midnight.

He said he was surprised to see the numbers of young children able to stay up and see the night out with their families. "It was a lovely atmosphere, and well-controlled. We loved every minute of it.

'"We were lucky enough to be on the stage when the fireworks went off," he said. "It was just a sea of people. It was incredible."

Mr Mooney said he thought this year's crowd was about 20,000. Crowds over the years varied from 15-16,000 to the 23,000 he estimated had been present for the millennium welcome.

This was Mr Mooney's 18th, and final year running the event. He said his favourite part of the event was standing on the stage at midnight as he has done every New Year since the millennium, to watch the fireworks and listen to the crowd's reaction.

Several thousand people also attended the next-biggest attraction in the region, the Festival of Lights at Hawke's Bay Showgrounds Tomoana which finished with a fireworks display starting about 9.45pm, enabling people to get from Hastings to Napier in time for the major event if they wished.

For Hawke's Bay's fire services, the biggest incident occurred between Cape Kidnappers and the Clifton Camp Ground, where a bush fire spread up the cliff.

The Heretaunga Rural fire service could not access the area in the dark and with the tide quite high. The fire burnt itself out overnight. A helicopter and monsoon bucket was called in at first light, with hot spots finally extinguished about midday.

The fire was believed to have been caused by a camp fire left burning.

Hastings Fire Service senior station officer Dennis O'Leary said they spent several hours responding to rubbish bin fires at Heretaunga St's BJs Cafe, which were being treated as suspicious. Otherwise, it was a "pretty standard night".

There had only been three calls for the Napier Fire Service, Senior station officer Glen Drew said: "we've been lucky, it's been quite quiet".

Hawke's Bay Regional Hospital reported a busy night with alcohol-related injuries and conditions, and police traffic staff were pleased with behaviour on the roads.

District road policing manager Matt Broderick said a couple of people were "caught out" at a checkpoint at Waimarama, where police were using a mainly educational approach to people's relaxed attitudes to safety, including riding on overloaded farm and quad bikes, without helmets.