Debate over teenagers' use of alcohol and drugs has raged in the wake of the death of a King's College student after a school ball last weekend.
Frances Morton headed out to find out what students have to say, and just how worried their parents should be.
Eloise is a fresh-faced teenager with a blonde ponytail and sweeping uniform skirt that signals her attendance at a good school in central Auckland. The 16-year-old has already planned her illicit substance for the night of her school ball later this year: Ecstasy.
"That's what everybody does," she says.
"You can act more sober if you're on a pill, not drunk."
She believes that will make it harder for parents and teachers to catch her out.
Eloise is talking just days after David Gaynor died suddenly last Saturday night following the King's College ball. Rumours of drug-taking and drunken behaviour at the event have again sparked debate over teenagers drinking and taking drugs.
And it caused the organisers of school balls this weekend to go to unprecedented lengths to make sure there is no more tragedy.
Prime Minister John Key, whose son Max attends King's College and was at the ball, was quoted this week saying, "I think we need to acknowledge there is a drug culture."
Eloise and her group of mates, who come from several different innercity colleges, were hanging out after school in Newmarket. The teenagers, all aged 16, spoke candidly on the condition of anonymity. This isn't the kind of stuff they share with their parents.
Taking "pills" or Ecstasy, they say, is common - especially at dance raves on Saturday nights. A pill will cost $40 a pop, or $30 at mates' rates if bought from a friend.
The teenagers were aware there was no guarantee the pills sold as Ecstasy would actually contain MDMA (methylenedioxymethamphetamine). Emma researched what was available on the market on the online forum, tripme.co.nz.
"It's an informative website that tells you what is in the drugs that you could be buying, to keep you safe. I think it's a really good thing," she says.
Emma admitted to drinking every Saturday night, smoking cannabis regularly and has had an Ecstasy pill three times. She comes across as level-headed and surprisingly knowledgeable when it comes to drugs.
"It's bad for schools to tell you, Don't do drugs,' because people are just going to do them anyway and then they're not made aware of the side effects."
Cannabis was the teenager's most preferred illicit drug, and they had no problem getting access to it. They claimed to know supply houses in their area, and two of the boys had been stopped by a Black Power member on a Ponsonby street and asked if they wanted to buy the drug.
Andrew was given cannabis by a friend's mother, who handed it over on one condition.
"She said, 'Whatever you have, you have to smoke it at the table. Don't give it to your mates or take it and sell it'. She was being a good parent," he says.
The teenagers had tried the legal synthetic-cannabis Kronic, available in dairies, but rated the illegal version over its counterpart.
"Marijuana is better," says Matthew. "On Kronic the buzz is real hyper."
The range of substances the teenagers have dabbled in to get high is extensive - and not all are illegal. They have stuffed socks over aerosol cans and sucked in the gas for a quick head spin. They have ingested the hallucinogenic plant datura, but this comes with a warning: The teenagers knew of one girl who had tunnel vision for two days after use and a boy who was hospitalised.
Cough syrup goes by the street name DX. Andrew says he got a "really spaced-out buzz" from downing 150ml of Robitussin. However, the laxative side effect was unpleasant.
Magic mushrooms are in season and kids have scoured school grounds for crops, but the teenagers were wary of mushrooms because of the potential to suffer serious poisoning. They also thought tripping on the mushrooms made them vulnerable to muggers.
There is a trade in legal prescription drugs. Ritalin, a medication for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has a street value of $5 per tablet. The pill is crushed, raked into lines and inhaled through the nose.
"You get a note and snort it up," says Andrew.
"That kicks in real fast. It gives you a focused, fast buzz, but when you're drinking it can make it hard to interpret people's emotions. It can be dangerous."
Drug usage varies depending on wealth. Ben Birks of Odyssey House runs drug-education programmes in schools, mostly in South Auckland. Petrol is the fourth most common substance abuse he deals with, after alcohol, cannabis and cigarettes.
Birks says there is less evidence of petrol abuse in wealthier areas where young people have more money and access to higher class drugs.
Andrew and his mates would not touch petrol. They also draw the line at using needles, and stay clear of methamphetamine.
Matthew has seen the effects of a P addiction first-hand. His father was on methamphetamine for about seven years, it alienated him from the family and led to a conviction and one year's home detention when the police raided the cannabis-growing operation he had to support his addiction.
Matthew says seeing his father go through that has put him off touching the drug, although he still smokes cannabis.
"At least if you do marijuana you can still see your family," he says.
A number of the teenagers say their parents either do drugs, usually cannabis, or had done so in their youth and therefore it was hypocritical to forbid them from doing the same thing.
Although many did not speak openly with their parents about their drug taking, they believed parents often had an inkling of what was going on but turned a blind eye.
"Mum has an idea that we do marijuana," says Matthew.
"She doesn't know about other stuff. She tries to talk to me about it but I dodge the conversation. She used to do the same sort of stuff when she was a kid so she doesn't mind very much."
It's obvious that the drug of choice by a long way is alcohol.
Emma: "There is definitely a binge-drinking culture. If you're going to be drinking, you're drinking to get drunk."
The chairman of King's College board of governors, Peter Ferguson, says the drinking age should be raised, but the students doubt such a law change would have any impact on their alcohol use.
Worlds collide at 3.20pm at Middlemore station when students stream out of the nearby secondary schools, King's College, Otahuhu College, De La Salle College and McAuley High School.
Waiting for a train home to Mangere are two students, aged 15 and 16, from Catholic girls' school, McAuley.
Neither drink nor take drugs, they say. They are too busy with sports and church commitments.
"My family all know what's wrong with it," says the 16-year-old.
"My mum's family, they drink and smoke so she has seen the consequences. I'm pretty much against it."
Nearby, Philip Tavega, 18, is waiting for a bus home to Mangere from De La Salle College where he is in Year 13. Tavega admits to sculling back pre-mixed bourbon and cola drinks on Saturdays at heavy drinking sessions but says no to drugs.
"It's the girls who want to try new stuff, especially King's College girls. They're naughty."
Tavega has other things on his mind. "I only go to parties to look for girls. I'm not there to drink too much."
Students from King's College waiting on the platform had received strict instruction from their school not to talk to media and steadfastly refused to comment on the matter.
"I want to respect my headmaster," says one.
A King's College old boy, 18, would talk but didn't want to be named.
He said cannabis and Ecstasy use and heavy drinking were widespread when he was a student - never on campus but at parties outside school time without parents' knowledge.
"I think it's because people had the finances to do those things," he says.
Drug use was becoming more common: "When I was back in fifth form people only used to take drugs every couple of months and now it has become more like weekly."
He remembers drug education seminars while he was at school but no drug checks.
"I presume the reason is if they did do checks half the people would be expelled."
Some parents have turned to private investigators to monitor their children's behaviour and try to find out what their children are up to, particularly since the internet and cellphones have made it easy for young people to make clandestine connections.
A Takapuna woman, who did not want to be named, became suspicious when she noticed a change in her 15-year-old son's behaviour. He was surly and uncommunicative - not uncommon for a teenager - but she became increasingly concerned when she found legal party weed and cannabis in his bag.
The woman had read about being able to track children's phones and laptops so approached a private investigator for help. She is now able to monitor his online communications, gets reports emailed to her of his text conversations and uses that information to foil his drug-taking plans.
"A lot of parents don't think about taking that step," she says. "They're entitled to do it."
She sees it as a tool in trying to keep her child safe. "He'll say on Facebook he's waiting for his parents to go to sleep to sneak out. So you make sure you stay up."
Daniel Toresen, director of Thompson & Toresen Investigators, has helped a growing number of parents concerned their children are getting involved with drugs. He says for 14- to 16-year-olds the main worry is cannabis. For those aged 17 and 18, it is methamphetamine.
The key thing parents are after is the truth. "A lot of it is to have the black and white proof of the text messages saying, Have you got any P?' Putting that in front of the kid you can really engage without the pretence of lies," says Toresen.
The digital world offers a mind- boggling array of surveillance methods. Most smartphones, such as iPhones, can be converted into spy devices that would be the envy of James Bond.
Applications will convert the phone into a listening and video tool when the parent rings into it and it is also possible to have every text message on the phone and every photograph taken on its camera sent to an email address.
All the parent needs is access to the phone and the undetectable application can be downloaded in an instant.
Using a programme such as eBlaster, a parent can email an attachment of something as banal as a holiday snap and, when it's opened on their child's computer, spyware will download that records every key stroke and sends all information to the parent's email address. Passwords, online chats, everything is recorded in a report.
"You don't have to be a technical expert to use this stuff,' says Toresen. "A layperson can do it."
The teenagers hanging out in Newmarket were horrified to hear their parents could employ such surveillance tactics but they doubt it would curb substance usage, saying they would find ways around it. "That would freak me out but it wouldn't stop me," says James.
Daniel Paikea runs Teen Challenge, an organisation designed to be the "fence at the top of the cliff" to prevent young people falling into substance abuse.
Paikea has overcome drug problems and says it is important to understand the reasons people take drugs. He says when he asks young people why they use, more than 95 per cent reply "to feel better".
Paikea believes severe drug use is a symptom of a problem, not the root cause.
"I'll tell parents when a young person is walking into a bar, they're buying a bottle of feelings. When they are going to a dealer, they are buying a feeling," he says.
The teenagers who have progressed from experimental or social use of drugs or alcohol to a life controlling problem are often dealing with some form of trauma.
Sam Crosby, 18, a student at Albany Senior High College and chairman of the Auckland Council Youth Advisory Panel, says there are varying degrees of abuse and it's unfair to paint all youth with the same brush.
"Youth run the gamut of it, from not doing anything to trying it to abusing it," Crosby says.
"It is an experimental time in your life and there is always going to be some experimentation. No one is going to deny youth are using them and some youth are abusing them but it's not solely a youth thing. I think it's society's problem."
Kate, 16: "I started in Year 11. That's only because I changed friendship groups. It totally depends who your friends are. I wasn't friends with anyone doing that so I was never around it. They never pressured or anything."
Emma, 16: "That's the same for me. You don't feel pressure. It's just everybody looks like they're having so much fun."
Emma, 16: "I had a funny conversation with my dad last night about shelving. It's when you shelve a pill up your bum. It was a lovely dinner conversation. My parents were talking about after balls and my brother was talking about how he went into the bathroom, he went to King's, and there were guys doing lots of pills. My parents were like, in our generation we didn't snort pills, we used to drop them because it's so bad to snort. I was like, Yeah, what about shelving?' They were like, What?' I was, Oh no, I thought you'd know'."
Emma, 16: "We know a few people who do meth."
Anna, 16: "That's just crazy. We know them but we're not friends with them. That's just disgusting."
Emma, 16: "It's a big step further."
Anna, 16: "I think it's a dirty drug. No offence, but it's only people like prostitutes and dirty people who take that stuff."
Emma, 16: "I think the best thing parents can do is let them [their teenagers] have a drink now and then with dinner so that when they actually do start to drink they know how to handle themselves. Instead of banning them from it and when they actually get out there they vomit and do something stupid and maybe even overdose."
On the street
James, 16: "Right now if I went over to a dude [in Newmarket] and said, Can I get a hundie [$100 bag of cannabis]?', he'd say, 'One sec,' go and get it and be back in about a minute."
Andrew, 16: "The reason people take pills is you don't care about tomorrow. It gives you that feeling of happiness where you just want to be happy for that time. You're not worried about anything else in your life."
If you suspect your child is using drugs
Warning signs that teenagers are using drugs can be difficult to detect as they are often associated with normal teenage behaviour, such as mood changes.
Talk to the teenager. Focus on showing concern and understanding the issues they're facing. Don't be afraid to show feelings. If it makes you feel sad to find out your teenager is using, it's okay to cry in front of them. That reality can be beneficial in building a relationship.
If the young person wants to stop abusing substances, this is the time they need the most support.
Get help from the services available: Community Alcohol and Drugs Services (CADS), Odyssey House, Alcohol and Drug Helpline: 0800 787 797.