University City Hosts Pointless Riots

Port Vila, Vanuatu (PressExposure) October 01, 2009 -- In the South Island of New Zealand, in one of New Zealand's oldest cities, the university city of Dunedin, there is a new notoriety, as future community leaders collect criminal records.

University students challenged police, as the usually quiet streets were been rocked by mayhem and violence, following the Canterbury University students’ Undie 500 car-rally hitting town. The rally was organized by the Canterbury University engineering students, as a pub crawl from Christchurch to Dunedin, in cars valued under $500.

Police in riot gear faced approximately 600 students in North Dunedin’s Castle St student area. On the second night of rioting the students lit fires and pelted the police with bottles and bricks. Police subdued and dispersed the crowd with pepper spray. Nearly 80 students were arrested over two nights of rioting. 68 have been charged.

Around 80% of those arrested were students from Otago University, Sergeant Matt Scoles of the Dunedin police said. Yet the Otago University is pointing the finger at the Canterbury students. "These deplorable events would not have occurred if the Canterbury students had not gone ahead with their unwanted rally", said Professor David Skeggs, University of Otago vice-chancellor.

The students were charged with disorderly behavior, breaching a temporary liquor ban, willfully setting fire to property and obstruction. "One young student decided he would leap across the fire and he didn't make it. His hair was singed to the scalp. He's got serious burns to his upper body and torso", says Inspector Dave Campbell, Dunedin Police Area Commander.

Organizers requested a closed venue-based event on Saturday, but it didn’t happen. Apparently no venues were available, leaving the students on the streets. Students believed planned events would contain the behaviour and create a different feel on the whole weekend.

Last year the official event was cancelled, yet still there were alcohol-fuelled riots and over 30 arrests. A rogue event ended in chaos.

This was the fourth year in a row where there has been trouble during the Undie 500. Carl Shrimpton, president of the rally organizers said, he believed the problems were caused by Otago students, rather than Undie 500 participants. "It was more a symbol of an underlying culture down here that’s not for us to repair".

“These hooligans have really damaged Dunedin’s reputation,” says the Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin. Shrimpton rejected calls by Chin and Dunedin North MP, Pete Hodgson, to ban the Undi 500 Charity drive. “The event would go underground and that's something that needs to be considered seriously,” Shirmpton said.

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Press Release Submitted On: October 01, 2009 at 10:10 pm
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