Teens put on clean-up duty

The partying Wakatipu teens who vandalised a luxury Crown Range property will not face charges - instead, they're on New Year's Eve clean-up duty as punishment.

The 14 Wakatipu High School senior pupils, many of them school leavers, trashed the yard of a Crown Range property during an end-of-exam party on November 22.

Sergeant Steve Watt, of Queenstown, said security camera footage showed the group ''gallivanting in the spa and surrounding garden area and drinking copious amounts of alcohol, smashing bottles and urinating through the yard and potted plants''.

The youths, who had been partying next door, could have faced penalties of a $2000 fine or three months' imprisonment for being unlawfully on property.

However, Sergeant Watt said they would not face charges because the Singaporean property owner, while devastated at the damage to his holiday retreat, was keen the youngsters undergo some form of restorative justice instead.

''Obviously, he's got plenty of money, so he wasn't worried about reparation which he would've got through the diversion process. He's been graceful enough to allow the kids to do some alternative action.

''He was keen for them to do something to help the community and sort of show them, I suppose, the ills of drinking, and that seemed like a perfect solution which we've been able to facilitate.''

Sgt Watt said he had liaised with the Queenstown Lakes District Council and organised for the teenage culprits to meet him at 5am downtown on New Year's Day.

''We've been designated some areas that my merry bunch of men and women will tidy up to aid the council.''

Wakatipu High principal Steve Hall, who was ''absolutely gutted'' when he heard about his pupils' drunken antics, calls their punishment ''a good community solution''.

- Philip Chandler.