“Concerns over alcohol-fuelled violence as rebuild workers move into Kaikoura”

Lead article in the Marlborough Express

We’re advising tourists and migrants alike to give Kaikoura a wide berth over the next 18 months or so as the township turns into the NZ equivalent of an Australian “mining camp”. Around 400 workers are due to flood in to the small township (est. pop. 2,080) to start on reconstruction work.

“Alcohol fuelled violence and sexual disease”

According to the Marlborough Express

Officials are concerned alcohol-fuelled violence and sexual disease consultations will surge in Kaikoura as hundreds of rebuild workers descend on the district.

Police, the Kaikoura District Council and Community and Public Health have set up a group to monitor the earthquake-hit town’s bars and off-licences, while night clinics and random drug tests are planned for workers…

The facility has been likened to those used in Australian mining camps.

Unbelievably, instead of lodging all the workers with local accommodation providers (many of whom are weeks away from bankruptcy due to low bookings) and grounding them within the community, they will be herded four to a unit in a 75 unit ‘mining camp‘ situated on Ludstone Road, near to West End on the fringe of town – incredibly, this is within metres of the local high school. New Zealand was never great at ‘joined up thinking’ and one has to wonder who benefits most from this arrangement ?

Meanwhile, Compass has won a lucrative catering contract said to be worth millions of dollars to look after the workers, further depriving local food providers of much needed trade.

Concerns about the camp, which is unlikely to be as well run as its Australian equivalents (these are said to be like “tight ships” with zero tolerance drug and alcohol policies) were raised during a during a Canterbury District Health Board committee earlier this month…

“Challenges” for Kaikoura included concerns about increases in violence due to alcohol consumption in the township, the mental health of the workforce, and increases in GP sexual health consultations.

In Christchurch, the number of confirmed cases and tests for sexual diseases increased following an influx of workers after the February 2011 earthquake.

At Thursday’s CDHB meeting, board member Anna Crighton said there “could be some challenges arising” in Kaikoura, prompting acting chairman Mark Solomon to say “there already is”.

“They were highlighted early through our recovery team because . . . those things do happen if you bring in a work camp to a degree,” he said.

There had been some minor alcohol-related violent incidents early in Kaikoura’s post-quake recovery.

“We heard of incidents very early on.
Town’s mayor wants more bars
In what seems like a strange case of twisted logic, the town’s mayor thinks Kaikoura needs more bars…

“It’s strange to say, but we need some more bars in town, now how weird is that? Because we’ve lost half a dozen outlets . . . and there was some issues.

“I think it’s OK, but the thing’s going to ramp up and it’s something we’re going to have to watch,” Gray said…

Mr Gray will have to be great deal more proactive than simply watching  and monitoring. Pity the poor residents of Kaikoura, they’ve suffered enough without this madness that is about to descend on them.

Interestingly, the person in charge (an Australian senior exec) who is credited with bringing in the camp from Australia, has just resigned from his post.

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