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Rhythm and Vines alcohol ban extended

THE temporary alcohol ban around the Rhythm and Vines concert area will be extended this year at the request of police, who say people outside the area had been drinking and had defecated and vomited, sometimes on private property.

After a plea from police district commander Inspector Sam Aberahama, Gisborne District Council adopted a staff recommendation to extend the ban.

Inspector Aberahama said over 12 years Rhythm and Vines had brought a lot of fun into the district but there were also problems with drugs and alcohol.

This was the only concert where BYO drinks were allowed and he had always opposed that.

Three years ago there was “a riot” at the BW campground at Watson Park during the R&V period, news of which made headlines nationwide. This was bad for the image of Tairawhiti.

A partial ban on BYO was introduced two years ago and last year there was a complete ban, which changed the whole mood of the concert.

When limited BYO was introduced social media went off with comments like “we are sabotaged” and “we will sneak in alcohol”.

Last year there was a complete change. Social media showed the kids were coming for the event and the artists.

“It's taking a bit of time. We are changing the culture from ‘we will go to Gizzy, we will burn tents, we will do whatever we like because it is not our place’.

“Well, this is our place and we are going to make it safe,” said Inspector Aberahama.

Last year was a huge step in shifting that mindset and they wanted it to go on this year.

“We want to go wider with a temporary liquor ban for the duration of Rhythm and Vines.”

That would make it easier to police and keep neighbours happy.

If nothing was done, there would be a lot of annoyed residents and the displacement would just get bigger.

There could be as many as 500 young people out on the street spreading rubbish, defecating, vomiting and congesting the sides of the road. They would move on when asked but just went somewhere else.

There was a large pile of rubbish at Waihirere Domain. The park across the road from the hospital was crowded, full of young people drinking.

“We have just got to look at ways and means in which we can continue to shift that mindset, change the culture and make Tairawhiti the place to come to, to be safe and to come for the concert.”

The council agreed to extending the ban but there was some discussion at the projected $20,000 cost of the signs, with several councillors saying it should be possible to do it cheaper.

Eventually, it was decided to put a cap of $10,000 on the cost.

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