1 Jan 2015

Gisborne considers tighter rules

7:51 pm on 1 January 2015

The Gisborne District Council says it will discuss tighter measures for alcohol at local festivals after a riot broke out on New Year's Eve at BW Campgrounds.

The riot took place at the BW Summer Festival, which runs alongside but separate to Rhythm and Vines.

The riot took place at the BW Summer Festival, which runs alongside but separate to Rhythm and Vines. Photo: Ollie Neas

The riot that erupted at the campground led to 63 arrests and medical treatment for 83 injured people.

The campground is used for the BW Summer Festival, which runs alongside Rhythm and Vines. Buses are used to shuttle people between the two sites.

The council's chief executive, Judy Campbell, said it was clear that a small group of people were to blame and the majority should not have to miss out on the festival going ahead again this year.

She said an on-licence application that was dropped would not have changed the outcome.

Ms Campbell said the mayor and some of the councillors were backing changes to ensure a safe environment.

She said the council planned to meet with the festival organisers, police and other agencies in February.

Riot could spell end to festival

An organiser of Gisborne's Rhythm and Vines music festival said earlier today that last night's riot could spell the end of the BW Summer Festival.

Full cans of alcohol and bits of wood were thrown during the three-hour riot, some of them at the police. Tents were also set on fire and vehicles overturned.

Gisborne Hospital's emergency department said most of those hurt were treated at the site but four went to hospital - one of whom, a 19-year-old man, was admitted. He remains in a stable condition.

Caitlyn Hart, who was staying with friends in the Pines area of the campground, said the trouble started at about 5pm in the afternoon, with a few people kicking down tents.

She said people then lit tents on fire, stampeding through fences and throwing full cans - with one hitting a girl next to her in the head and knocking her to the ground.

"It was so scary. At first it was a bit of fun and games, like everyone was kind of laughing," she said.

"But then when that girl got hit in the head and people started getting smashed with cans, when the fence came down and everyone started stampeding, that was freaky as as well."

Toby Burrows, an organiser of Rhythm and Vines and a director of the campground company, said he had never seen anything like the violence, which police said was fuelled by alcohol.

Asked if the riot would spell the end of the BW Summer Festival, he had this to say: "It's too early to tell, I guess. So many aspects of the event run really, really well, amazingly well. It's just this one part that [we] have had difficulty getting right."

Mr Burrows said the festival employed local people and brought money into the region.

He said his company was granted a special licence to sell alcohol at the campground but chose not to use it.

"Due to the feedback from the customers, we remain BYO ... Quite likely, there's a very strong contributing factor towards the behaviour. So, yeah, in future, if we can do the event again, we would be removing BYO."

He said he had met with police and there would be a festival debriefing in the coming weeks.

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