Police praise party-goers

Nelson Mail, 4 January 1997

Motueka police are praising the behaviour of young people at The Gathering on Takaka Hill this week.

The Gathering, described as the largest dance party of its kind in New Zealand, ran for 48 hours from midday on New Year's Eve.

Senior Sergeant Eric Stretton said Motueka police expected trouble at the event when they were briefed about it on New Year's Eve. However, despite a crowd of more than 5,000, no offences had been reported to the station - and reports were received only of lost items rather than stolen ones. But Takaka police yesterday received reports of a wet suit, surf boards and a couple of packs being stolen from the event. On Tuesday evening, police went to the Canaan Downs site about 10pm when it was drizzling and misty. Mr Stretton said that type of weather could contribute to road accidents, but there were none that night.

He praised the way the event went and in particular how young people behaved. Often young people were criticised, he said, because they "want to throw bottles at us (police) and want to cut our faces".

"On this occasion, we quite enjoyed their company."

Police were not based on site at The Gathering, Mr Stretton said, and they did not receive any reports of problems with drugs or alcohol. "But we are not so naive to think there weren't drugs and alcohol," Mt Stretton said.

He said police did not turn a blind eye to the drug and alcohol aspect, but did not have to take any action over it. They were kept informed of what was happening at the event by the organisers. On Thursday, police stopped 83 motorists coming down from Takaka Hill. They were targeting drivers with excess alcohol levels, but only two people were given breath screening tests, which were not positive.

Mr Stretton said while he was pleased with how The Gathering went, police wanted to talk to the organisers about "ironing out" some problems for the future, such as traffic jams.

Nelson Mail, 4 January 1997

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