'People are going to die': Mayor calls out ‘idiots’

People crowd at Albert Town bridge despite the Covid-19 lockdown. Photo: QLDC
People crowd at Albert Town bridge despite the Covid-19 lockdown. Photo: QLDC
Tougher measures may be needed to deal with those breaching lockdown rules, Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult says, after people were caught jumping off Albert Town Bridge yesterday.

Mr Boult called those involved "idiots" and said people would die if the lockdown was not taken seriously.

Ten people were photographed about 3.30pm standing in swimming costumes on or by the bridge, and a man and a woman were above them, poised ready to jump into the river below.

In a post on its Facebook page, the Queenstown Lakes District Council said such activity was "not acceptable" during lockdown.

"Please don’t do it, for the good of the community, and out of respect for our medical professionals and emergency services."

The council said the picture was taken by a member of the public who contacted Civil Defence Wanaka area co-ordinator Jeff Donaldson, who in turn contacted the police.

The group had left by the time police arrived.

The council later warned people on Facebook about their language and "vitriolic" comments under the post.

Mr Boult said it was "deplorable" that people were not remaining in their bubbles and were possibly causing the community to go through "social and financial pain" for nothing.

"People are going to die. They are putting our frontline medical staff at risk."

He was supportive of the police, but said they were limited in what they could do.

"On the back of this, maybe it is time we start to have a discussion with police at a senior level about tougher ways of dealing with this."

Queenstown currently has the highest concentration of Covid-19 cases in New Zealand.

Mr Boult further warned any kind of clarity concerning when the lockdown would end was impossible for residents in the Queenstown Lakes district.

Despite an abundance of information made available to the public, Mr Boult said his community was understandably very nervous given the uncertainty that lay ahead.

"It’s all very well to have sources of information but there is no answer to when the lockdown will finish ... What good is information when it’s anybody’s best guess?" Mr Boult said.

The mayor, who has been in office since 2016, said the district would be the New Zealand community hit hardest by the wider economic effects of Covid-19.

"No doubt about that, [while] most parts of New Zealand rely on tourism to a certain extent, we rely on it pretty well 100%."

However, he said he had always admired the spirit of the people in Queenstown Lakes.

"Most of us moved here because we love the place, we love the lifestyle it gives us and I’m very confident that we have an enormously resilient community that will recover from this and rise above."

The pandemic had kept Mr Boult working for over two weeks straight, averaging somewhere between 12 and 16 hours a day.

He said he was fortunate to have had previous experience of having to show strong leadership through a crisis.

"I was running Christchurch Airport when the earthquakes struck in 2011.

"‘I know what’s required and what is required is decisions made and a decisive leadership given."


View all

Seriously, just how is jumping into the clear green waters of the Clutha on a beautiful day endangering the efforts to battle the virus?

Come on!

Leadership only works when people are willing to be led, not bullied. Different people have different perceptions of the two !

Interesting how Blount is quick to label a bunch of kids jumping from a bridge on a hot afternoon as idiots yet has no comment when the Health Minister David Clarke does something far more egregious. Wonder why? Politicians like Blount are finding out the hard way that a political title doesn't mean people hold you in respect. No doubt what these kids were doing was wrong. But what the Health Minister did was far worse. Is Blount going to call him out or just the "idiots" who voted for him. Leadership doesn't come with the title of mayor Mr Blount! You either rise to the occasion in crisis and lead or you become a follower. In all of New Zealand, the only politician who is wingeing to the media about "idiots" is you. Sounds like a leadership problem to me! If your not up for the job of being mayor then step aside and let somone else take lead! You like to winge to the media so take the communications directors job instead, something your might be good at. I see no leadership whatsoever from this guy! Leaders apply the standard equally to everyone. Politicians apply the standards to the minions below them. If you want to be a leader, set the standard and take action.

Hey Boult, if your not up to the job let someone else take charge. Your the mayor, stop complaining about the problems to the media and do something! And stop calling anybody who disagrees with you and "idiot". Lastly, stop making comments like: "I was fortunate to have had previous experience of having to show strong leadership through a crisis". Those may be your thoughts about your performance but might not necessarily reflect what those around may have thought. Leaders lead, if your a leader, take some action other than complaining to the ODT!

In other countries these idiots would be prosecuted and either fined or jailed. Why is it they just get get a telling off in NZ? If they were speeding motorists the police would be after them, their behaviour is just as dangerous if not more so. Time to stop pussyfooting around and come down hard on them.

Mate, your right to freedom is derived from God not the Government. You may be happy to roll over and give that right away without any thought but others aren't. The government recognizes that some people aren't going to give their right to freedom up as easily as you. Consequently, they have discretionary authority in how they enforce the lockdown. If the police come down too hard, too soon they could loose the support of the community. Given the ratio of police to people in the population do you think the police want to piss off a lot of people in what could be a long lockdown? What these kids did was wrong. BUT you cant infringe on peoples right to freedom and not have some pushback. I'm not justifying the behaviour just pointing out the obvious. The other big problem is a lack of leadership by the government. Idiotic comments such as "people are going to die" while the Minister of Health thumbs his nose at the government lockdown mandate doesn't help. The mayor down there is severely lacking in a lot of areas, mainly leadership. He obviously cant deal with the stress of the job. The hysterics, theatrics, name-calling and wingeing has to stop. He looks like an idiot.

View all

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter