Alcohol and trouble

Nelson Mail editorial 4 January 1999

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It is hard to escape the conclusion that the main ingredient for trouble at New Year's Eve celebrations is freely-available alcohol. Drink certainly seemed to be the fuel that set New Year celebrations at Waihi Beach on such a destructive and objectionable course. There, drinking youths set fire to a car and then others pelted police and firefighters with stones and bottles when they attempted to deal with it. On Saturday, at nearby Mt Maunganui, there was more of the same sort of trouble.

By contrast, in areas of Nelson where alcohol was banned, New Year's Eve was trouble-free. Kaiteriteri and central Nelson have both been trouble spots on New Year's Eve in the past, but since a ban on alcohol in public places has been rigorously applied, little trouble has occurred.

The biggest possible contrast to the New Year's Eve mayhem at Waihi Beach was The Gathering, on top of Takaka Hill. There an estimated 8000 young people danced through New Year's night with no arrests and no reported trouble. Alcohol was banned and there were also remarkably few incidents or problems of any sort. The organisers and the young people involved have to be congratulated on the success of The Gathering and there seems to be a clear message for police and civic authorities. If they want trouble-free New Year's Eve celebrations in future, one of the first steps is to strictly control the availability of alcohol.

Nelson Mail editorial, 4 January 1999

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