New Zealand’s reputation as a safe, peaceful place has taken yet another hit.
The international press has picked up on the story about a riot at New Year celebrations in Gisborne, a town known for its drug and gang problems.
Gisborne’s riot came days after a similar riot at the Britomart Rail Station, Auckland just before Christmas (Police vow to review CCTV footage of Britomart Riot). Rampaging youths closed down the city’s rail network. Youths exiting Coca Cola Christmas in the Park stormed onto platforms and hurled missiles over turnstiles at security guards and Maori wardens.
Gisborne’s riot started at the BW Summer Festival campsite. This wasn’t the first time the festival has had trouble and questions must be addressed about event security and alcohol policies.
A concert go-er posted this comment on reddit/r/newzealand. He said the toilet portaloos were locked by staff at 4pm and fires were being lit around the site. Three hours later things got out of hand, culminating in police herding up campers around 7pm, creating an overwhelming mob they were ill equipped to deal with.
There are also rumours that security staff walked off the site after a pay dispute. This is from Facebook. Surprisingly it is legal to drink in a public place in New Zealand, perhaps regulators could learn something from their Australian neighbours?
The UK’s Daily Mail wrote
More than 60 people were arrested and 83 others were hurt when a New Year’s Eve festival in New Zealand erupted into a riot.
Police had a running battle with drunks for three hours, during which full bottles, cans and camping gear were used as projectiles at the Gisborne New Year’s Eve festival.
The brawl broke out in the festival camp grounds late in the afternoon at the beach-side festival, during which cars were flipped over and fires lit.
and the paper published pictures and video of the drunken brawls, most of which were taken before the sun had set on 2014.
Mikayla Stuart, was working at a food stall inside the festival grounds and told Stuff.co.nz ‘I’m not too sure whether it was pre-planned or not but a lot of campers got on board with it very quickly.
‘There were cans of alcohol flying through the air as well as chairs tent poles hitting heaps of people … another worker and I were curious and went to have a closer look and it turned into absolute chaos.’
Images from the camp ground show worried party-goers cowering behind mattresses as projectiles rained down across the camp sites.
This is not the first time there has been a problem with the crowds and the local police commander, Inspector Sam Aberahama, also told the website that the riot was a planned event and co-ordinated ahead of time by trouble-makers…
NZ authorities are now investigating the rules around the event, which attracted more than 7000 people and allowed unlimited alcohol into the camps. It was a decision local police had unsuccessfully challenged ahead of the day.
‘This was an intentional riot that was fuelled by alcohol. It was obvious a plan had been put in place by the main agitators, which quickly spread through the campgrounds. We used every available police resource to try to keep control of the crowds, he told Stuff.co.nz.
83 people required treatment from ambulance officers for a range of injuries, seven were taken to hospital.
By the end of the evening 63 people had been arrested at the scene.