Undie over for Dunedin

Organisers of the Undie 500 were unable to control the fringe elements "down there", so Canterbury student leaders have turned the key off for the infamous Canterbury car rally to Dunedin.

Student riots on Dunedin streets last Friday and Saturday, which resulted in more than 60 arrests, caused the University of Canterbury Students' Association president Steve Jukes to admit organisers "cannot control every element down there".

"The UCSA and ENSOC (the Engineering Society of Canterbury which organised the annual rally), have resolved not to run the Undie 500 to Dunedin in the foreseeable future," Mr Jukes said.

"We are unable to account for those people, students or otherwise, who have used the event as an excuse for violence and anti-social behaviour," he said.

ENSOC president, Carl Shrimpton, said the society was disappointed the Undie 500, ENSOC and the wider student body had been brought into disrepute by the actions of a small minority.

Faced by the onslaught of criticism, particularly from police, Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin and Dunedin North MP, Pete Hodgson, Mr Shrimpton said the student leaders had jointly decided the rally must take another form and another direction, in the future.

Both Mr Jukes and Mr Shrimpton stressed any future rally would not involve Dunedin.

"It is too early to say," Mr Shrimpton said when asked what form the rally would take next year.

"ENSOC and the UCSA exerted as much authority as we could over participants of the Undie 500," Mr Jukes said.

"What we couldn't do - and what it now seems we can never do - is exert authority on those hangers-on or those other students and young people that head to Dunedin to use this as an excuse for violence or anti-social behaviour.

"It's clear to us that the risks are far too great for the Undie 500 charity drive to continue to Dunedin in any unchecked measure," Mr Jukes said.

University of Canterbury vice chancellor Dr Rod Carr believed it was no longer in the interests of students personally or professionally, to be associated with the event in its current form, either as participants or organisers.

"I think it's a wise decision and we support them," Dr Carr said.

He agreed with the students that the key issue was their inability to keep control of the event and said this was the case with any similar event, run by students or any other body.

"I think ENSOC has acted responsibly," Dr Carr said.

Mr Shrimpton said the decision to turn off the ignition of the Undie 500 was made by himself and the rest of the ENSOC committee and was not made because of any outside pressure.

"I think this is clear evidence of students listening and being responsible," Mr Jukes added.

Attention now turns to the upcoming "Hammered in Hanmer" event, also run by ENSOC, which will be held in Hanmer Springs this weekend but Mr Jukes says that he doesn't foresee any problems.

"I'm not nervous about it at all. It's going to a back paddock in the north of Canterbury -- it's about four wheel driving, it's about a jetboat event; they've got lots of plans in a confined, controlled area," he said.

"They've (ENSOC) got things well in hand."

The Undie 500, a car rally between Christchurch and Dunedin in vehicles worth under $500 in which students and their vehicles were "dressed up", had been running since the early 1980s, according to Dr Carr.

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