Fed-up Porirua locals fear petition to ban 'siren battles' ignored

8:05 am on 19 October 2023
Speakers in a sport car in the sunlight

Photo: 123RF

Frustrated residents have started a petition calling on the Porirua City Council (PCC) to stop vehicles meeting and blasting music and emergency sirens at all hours of the night.

Known as 'siren battles', it is where vehicles face off to see who can play music the loudest and clearest.

In Porirua, battles have been reported in a number of locations, including around the Porirua Train Station and car park around the MegaCentre.

Residents are fed up with the noise.

"Ratepayers are tired of the inaction and dismissive attitude shown by the council and the mayor concerning this issue," said the petition on change.org.

The petition called for the council to start enforcing section 10 of the Public Places Bylaw 2019 when car meets were disturbing the peace.

"Disturbances of the peace must be enforced and ratepayers deserve better from their council."

Porirua mayor Anita Baker said she was "sick to death of the siren battles". Baker said she got lots of complaints from people who thought she had the power to solve the problem.

"I wish I had the power to," she said.

"I would be probably like Crusher Collins, taking their cars away."

Baker said she was initially understanding of the siren battles, but now she wanted to see them gone from the city. She said she had previously seen battles in the Hutt Valley, in places where there were not any residential buildings in earshot.

"We haven't got anywhere in our city where there's not houses that would hear anything."

She said they needed to go back to doing their battles in locations where nobody could hear them.

She said PCC was working with police and Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) on how they could stop the siren battles. But she said enforcement was ultimately the job of police.

"So for noise control at council, we can go into people's houses and take stereo. When people are in a moving vehicle and they're moving around, that becomes a police issue, not a council issue."

Police meanwhile said if a noisy vehicle was moving, it was under police's responsibility, but otherwise it fell to GWRC or PCC.

PCC had record complaints across 11 dates since March, most of those in September and October. Police meanwhile had received reports relating to 40 incidents between early February and early October this year.

A spokesperson for police said it was undertaking "preventative and enforcement patrolling".

Community patrollers were also actively patrolling in and around the Porirua Train Station, a known ground for siren battles.

The spokesperson said police were engaging with siren clubs and an alternative venue suitable for siren battles could provide a potential solution.

Police were laying charges against any offenders they apprehended.

The spokesperson said police were also aware "of instances where speakers have been stolen and are seeking to identify offenders who have stolen speaker systems".

"This issue is not one that police can solve alone - it requires key stakeholders and information from the public."

Summerset, which had a retirement community in Kenepuru, said it had not had any noise complaints from their residents in relation to siren battles.

Neither the founders of the petition nor residents RNZ approached would publicly comment.

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