Tauranga Hospital's Emergency Department was "heaving" yesterday and record numbers sought treatment on New Year's Day.

This was despite a reportedly quiet evening for emergency services across the city on New Year's Eve.

Bay of Plenty District Health Board acting chief executive Pete Chandler said although New Year's Eve at Tauranga Hospital's ED appeared to be quieter than usual, the number of people seeking treatment was only slightly fewer than last year.

However, the ED yesterday was described as "heaving" and "incredibly busy" and it was expected more than 200 people would have presented by the end of the day.


There were 169 admissions on New Year's Eve - six fewer than last year, but New Year's Day's admissions reached a record of 205 - 14 more than last year.

Mr Chandler said on-duty staff described New Year's Eve as "business as usual", although most people coming to the emergency department were well behaved compared with previous years.

The main reasons for people coming to the ED on New Year's Eve were assaults, trips and falls, with most presentations alcohol related.

Mr Chandler said record numbers came to Tauranga Hospital's ED in the week leading up to Christmas and this pattern continued into the first days of 2017, with most people being treated and discharged but not requiring hospital admission.

Western Bay Police area commander Inspector Clifford Paxton credited the cancellation of the Mount Maunganui New Year's beach party with the improved behaviour of revellers this year.

He said the number of arrests over the New Year was the lowest since 2008 and it was one of the best New Year's Eves in many years, particularly looking at the tone of the crowd.

"By and large, people were happy, engaging and quite friendly. They weren't what we've seen in previous years, which was quite adversarial, quite aggressive and intoxicated."

Mr Paxton said the cancellation of the beach party meant people who previously travelled to the region to prey on others now had no reason to come.

"Some were coming for no other reason than to cause trouble and prey on the vulnerable.

"With no event there, there is no attraction for them to come to the Western Bay of Plenty.

"For all intents and purposes, New Year's Eve was probably the worst night of the year for us traditionally. This year, it was enjoyable working it."

Mr Paxton said partner agencies and emergency services did not face the same "burden" they had in previous years.

"We haven't seen the serious nature of offending this year, such as the sexual assaults, people being knocked unconscious to the ground, that we had last year.

"We haven't had that level of trauma experienced last year."

Over the holidays, Mr Paxton said most arrests had been for low-level offending such as disorderly behaviour, obstruction and fighting.

"The tone throughout the holiday period has been significantly different to previous years. There have been lots of families out enjoying the attractions the Western Bay offers - the beaches, the fishing, whatever it may be."

Mr Paxton said drink-driving numbers were steady over the holidays, which was disappointing.

He said police had also received a significant number of calls about driving behaviour - drivers distracted, tired, crossing the centre line, passing dangerously and speeding.

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless said he was pleased at the behaviour of revellers on New Year's Eve. The council's aim of creating a family-friendly atmosphere appeared to have succeeded, he said.

"We're not attracting the trouble-making part of that. It's a pity because a lot of people can enjoy a concert without making trouble, but it seems some people come to cause problems.

"Without the concert there, they don't seem inclined to do so."

Mr Brownless said police had advised the council to stop the Mount Maunganui concert "and it appears they were right".

Emergency Department admissions

December 31, 2015: 175
January 1, 2016: 191

December 31, 2016: 169
January 1, 2017: 205