A capital night for New Year revellers
WELLINGTONIANS are spoilt for options to welcome 1999, with several concerts competing.
The annual alcohol-free concert in Civic Square starts at 8.30pm and runs till almost 1am. It has live music, with a performance by Dalvanius, and an entertainment area for children. Police predict an audience of 10,000.
Janet Jackson support act Che Fu and England's Mad Professor will feature in the Export Gold New Year's Party at the Wakefield car park. The Exponents will perform at an outdoor party at Queens Wharf.
Blair St, off Courtenay Place, will be closed to traffic as bars and food stalls open on the street for an afternoon party, leading into the opening at dusk of Carnivale 99, which features New Zealand musicians.
Police are relaxed about revellers. Inspector Ian McKenzie said "98 per cent" behaved last year. Wellington was normally quiet, he said, but extra staff would be working.
Near Nelson, a dance party called The Gathering starts at noon and should draw about 10,000 people. An alcohol ban is in force in central Nelson from noon, and traffic will be blocked off.
Alcohol bans are also in force in traditional troublespots Mt Maunganui and Taupo, and extra police officers have been recruited from quieter townships. Up to 60,000 people are expected to welcome the New Year in Taupo, and Mt Maunganui's population of about 18,000 is expected to treble. About 15,000 partygoers are expected on the beach. Almost 50 arrests have already been made in the area for breach of a liquor ban introduced two weeks ago.
A rock concert at Waihi could pull crowds away from Mt Maunganui, but teenagers could be expected after New Year, police said. Tauranga is holding a family concert at Mt Drury Reserve that begins at 8pm and will have fireworks at midnight.
Extra police have been patrolling beaches in Hawke's Bay since last week. There were extra patrols on Waimarama beach, but last year was quiet, police said.
In Rotorua, an alcohol-free Mardi Gras offers family entertainment and fireworks at midnight. Extra staff would be on duty at the lakefront, police said.
Wanganui police will curtail potential trouble at Kai Iwi beach with roadblocks and a liquor ban. Thousands of holidaymakers were expected, but staff numbers were sufficient, police said.
[Illustration] Caption: DAVE HANSFORD Workers erect one of several marquees in the Wakefield car park for the New Year's Eve party