Undie 500 weekend shame has hit Dunedin again, and this
time police are looking to Otago students for the blame.
Police wearing full riot gear advanced three times on a crowd
of about 500 chanting students who threw bottles and rocks at
them in Castle St, before the crowd was forced backwards to
the University of Otago campus and dispersed about 2am this
Multiple arrests were made in what had been expected to be a
relatively trouble-free night after a small turn-out for a
rogue Undie 500-style rally from Christchurch on Friday and a
quiet day in the student quarter yesterday.
More than 100 police officers rostered on for the weekend,
which last year ended in student mayhem involving thousands
of people and more than 60 arrests, were unable to contain
students who gathered on Castle St to watch a couch fire set
just as more young people poured from the Gardens Tavern
about 11.50pm last night.
When a police skirmish line was set up around the fire
students started danced in the street, chanting "scarfies on
the piss" and throwing bottles at police. About 30 minutes
later officers donned riot gear as they worked to clear the
Dunedin area police commander Inspector Dave Campbell said
last night he was "thoroughly disappointed" by what happened.
"We thought the situation was under control, the day had gone
quietly, it was pretty low-key, everyone was well behaved.
This was definitely unexpected."
When police went in to break up the disorder, they became the
entertainment, he said. He blamed the disorder on people
drinking too much alcohol.
Asked if he was disappointed the arrival of about 100
Christchurch students in Dunedin on Friday as part of an
unofficial Undie 500-style rally (the official 2008 Undie 500
was canned after last year's events) had apparently sparked
another night of chaos Insp Campbell said he was not sure if
those people were to blame.
"I don't know that we can blame Canterbury students for this
one. There was only a small number of Canterbury students
here. We may have to look at Otago students this time."