Botanic Garden staff see red on parties

A crackdown on out-of-control drinking in North Dunedin has pushed student parties into the Dunedin Botanic Garden, leaving garden staff to clean up the mess.

Garden team leader Alan Matchett said the mess left behind ranged from vomit and broken bottles to coloured dye in the pond at the Mediterranean garden - something that had done deliberately twice in the past month.

The occasional game of ''possum'' - which involves drinking in trees, until drinkers fall out of their tree - was still being played in the garden, he said.

Parties in the garden were ''quite frequent'' and had become more of an issue in recent years, as the university and authorities cracked down on drinking in the north end.

The increasing number of parties in the garden was of concern because cleaning up took up staff time and the mess and noise affected the experience of other visitors.

''Sometimes it happens during daylight hours and, of course, they are making such a row [and] if the guys are peeing anywhere ... it's not a good sight for our visitors.''

The most recent incident of dye in the Mediterranean garden pond was thought to be connected to the paint party, but staff erred on the side of caution and had the pond pumped, because of fears the dye could be toxic and leak into Lindsay Creek, Mr Matchett said.

''It might have been someone having a wash on their way home.''

During Reorientation Week there had been ''at least three occasions'' of people doing the ice challenge - where participants are doused with a bucket of ice cold water, often after consuming alcohol - also at the Mediterranean garden, which was a bit of party hot-spot.

In other parts of the garden students had put detergent in fountains, which was a danger to ducks and seagulls.

''Detergent dissolves all the oil in their feathers [and] they can get waterlogged and drown.''

University student services director Karyn Thomson said antisocial or dangerous behaviour was of concern to the university.

''However, it must be remembered that we do have several thousand young people attending this university who form a large part of the risk-taking group of society.''

The proctor's office and Campus Watch worked closely with Botanic Garden staff in a ''mainly preventive'' role, she said.

''On some occasions, groups of students have been found drinking in the gardens and moved on after they have cleaned up their mess.

''This is not a regular occurrence, but when offending students can be identified, donations are taken from them to cover the cost of any damage and the [garden] receives these payments.''

Senior Sergeant Steve Aitken, of Dunedin, said police had been called ''a number of times'' to the garden to move on partying young people.

''It's not a place where people should be boozing up and leaving bottles and breaking bottles.''

This is appalling

The venerable and lovingly tended Botanical Garden is for all of us, not for some disrespectful young drunks who sneak around in the dark trashing public property. These are petty criminals! The gardens should be better protected and garden staff should be taking of plants and grounds, not cleaning up. Can the garden be patrolled at night? Could CCTV cameras with motion sensor lights be installed? I worry for the birds in the aviary and the wild birds who drink from the fountains and stream.

How are these drunks accessing the gardens? Could these gaps be closed at night?

Visitors to our city should see the gardens in their best light, not be welcomed with piles of trash or splashes of vomit here and there. This could seriously affect Dunedin's reputation as a travel destination.

Many of the city's best sites have been vandalized by these hooligans. I've seen the bench at the end of Second Beach removed from its cemented base twice. I've found beer bottles at Lawyers Head and strewn across St. Clair and St. Kilda (which I collect and then deposit in the trash). Enough! The fines should be more severe.


Thes people are vandals and should be punished - be it financially or by labour (cleaning, weeding, helping in the botanical gardens). They are young and fit and have the ablility to do this.

I'm sick to death of people patting them on the head because they think they bring money to Dunedin.  Has anyone thought of how much ratepayers are paying to fix up their damage?

Of more concern is their 'risk-taking' imposed on children and others in society when they encounter the broken glass and vomit the day after.


Too soft

The Police and University are too soft on these criminals, sure they can give a donation…. whoop dee do! The biggest damage is all the tourists that will never return after seeing the childish behaviour of these idiots. Time to get tougher on them people!


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