Perfect storm for boozy North Dunedin mayhem

St Patrick's Day, a southern rugby derby at Forsyth Barr Stadium and warm weather created a perfect storm of public disorder in Dunedin at the weekend.

Police were disappointed by the behaviour of some revellers, mostly students, who seized the opportunity to create mayhem on Saturday, reminiscent of wilder years gone by.

Six people were arrested for disorder and offensive behaviour related to the revelry, including two for assault.

Three people ended up in Dunedin Hospital - two with injuries sustained following two separate assaults, and one after falling from a roof in Butts Rd.

By 9.30am, a group began to gather at the Bracken View park in Lovelock Ave, near the Northern Cemetery.

As the day wore on and the crowd became increasingly intoxicated, St John staff were called to the park to assist the victim of an assault, about 3pm.

Paramedics called police for assistance soon after and it took about six officers until 4pm to disperse the increasingly rowdy crowd of mostly students.

A crowd of about 300 people, mostly students, enjoy the sunshine as they party at Bracken View in...
A crowd of about 300 people, mostly students, enjoy the sunshine as they party at Bracken View in Lovelock Ave. Shortly after this photo was taken the crowd was dispersed by police after reports of three assaults. Photo: Gregor Richardson

Senior Sergeant Ben Butterfield, of Dunedin, attended the scene and said three people had been assaulted in the crowd of about 300 people. Police would be investigating, he said.

Police were unhappy St Patrick's Day coincided with a big rugby game.

"It's not an ideal combination of events."

St John spokesman Elliot Steel said at least one person was treated by ambulance officers at the park, and two more were taken to Dunedin Hospital by a taxi and a private car.

A student spoken to at the park said the crowd were mostly first-and second-year students who had gathered there because they were not allowed to be intoxicated at their halls of residence.

"We can't be drunk in our halls. We can't go to Castle St," he said.

Dozens more green-clad partygoers were celebrating at a property down the hill in Butts Rd, where a 21-year-old man fell from a roof at 6pm.

Mr Steel said the man was taken by ambulance to Dunedin Hospital with moderate injuries.

Cancer Society marketing and communications manager Chris Green said while there appeared to be a relatively small group of students creating chaos nearby, there were hundreds participating in the society's Relay for Life at the Caledonian Ground at Logan Park.

He said the party across the road did not disrupt the event.

He sang the praises of the many university and polytechnic students and staff who participated in the relay.

"We had everyone from the physiology department to the Cambodian Club here."

Northeast Valley resident Damien Garrett said he was disappointed to see broken beer bottles all over the roads when biking home on Saturday afternoon.

"I wish the students would show some respect. It does not give the city a good image when tourists have to see broken beer bottles on the road."

A hush fell across many North Dunedin streets as the southern rugby derby kicked off between the Highlanders and the Crusaders at Forsyth Barr Stadium at 7.35pm.

Emergency services may have gained a reprieve from further mayhem as Elliot Dixon and Lima Sopoaga helped the Highlanders clinch a victory.

Fans left the stadium in a generally jovial mood.

Asked about the disorder at the Lovelock Ave park, a University of Otago spokeswoman said it was "unclear'' if students were involved in the incidents, but the proctor would look into it today.

"If it is found that this is the case, they may be subject to a student code of conduct [hearing],'' she said.

No problems were reported in Queenstown on St Patrick's Day, despite hundreds of people gathering at the Village Green, which is notorious in the town for large, rowdy gatherings.

george.block@odt.co.nz

- Additional reporting by John Gibb

Comments

Because I'm sure you had no idea about the alcohol rules at your halls before you turned up there for the year.
Shame though, the uni gets to get the cash from them, know they will drink, ban it in their premises, then get the local ratepayers to pay the for the consequences of their students drinking, saving them a few bucks in broken windows.
Cheers Otago uni for shifting the problem instead of trying to deal with it in the first place