Misuse of alcohol and binge drinking yet again marred a well organised Mountain Mardi Gras in Ohakune at the weekend.
There were 54 arrests and 50 of those were for breaches of the Liquor ban. Just as concerning was the number of people found drink driving including 11 driving home after 7am on Sunday morning over the limit.
The officer in charge of Ohakune Police, Sergeant Mike Craig said: "The Mardi Gras was well organised by the event co-ordinators but once again was plagued by the culture of binge drinking prior to attending or attempting to attend the event. Most of the arrests and problems were from outside the fenced off area of the Mardi Gras, but in the vicinity."
Sgt Craig is also appealing to parents to be more aware of the risks before allowing teenagers to attend. Police found one 16-year-old girl so drunk she wasn't able to tell officers where she was from. As well as being obnoxious she was totally incapable of protecting herself.
"This is a very dangerous situation for any young girl, but particularly one who has become separated from her friends and safety," said Sgt Craig. "When her parents were eventually contacted in the Wellington area they were too far away to be of any assistance and it was left up to police to resolve. Another person was so drunk he defecated in his pants.
"It never fails to amaze police the number of heavily intoxicated people who have made it to the Mardi Gras area, gotten separated from their friends and are not able to get home. A good number of these people have no idea where the house they have rented is.
"They become the problem of Police and St John to assist which takes resources away from where they are needed. The St John tent was like a war triage with drunk and injured people, and hypothermia cases because of girls wearing next to nothing and having a skinful of booze. They dealt with a variety of injuries and alcohol was a major factor in all of them."
The Liquor Ban was very well advertised and signposted and although policed heavily this year, it will be policed even further next year. The four other arrests of the 54 were for possession of drugs, obstruction, failing to stop and breach of bail.
On the roads 22 staff from the Traffic Alcohol Group and Highway Patrol stopped 6,072 vehicles between Thursday (24 June) and Sunday. 29 drivers were found to be over the limit and will be prosecuted. A further 364, although under the legal limit for prosecution, showed a presence of alcohol.
Senior Sergeant Nick Dobson said: "It gives you some idea of the amount of booze people were driving home with in their systems. I would suggest it was more luck than anything else that we did not have crash carnage on our roads. We all know what alcohol does to the system - how many potential time bombs were driving on our roads on Sunday?"
Media enquiries relating to general policing of the Mardi Gras should be referred to Sgt Mike Craig at Ohakune on 06 385 0104 or Area Commander Insp Steve Mastrovich at Taumarunui on 07 895 5744.