Am I alone in thinking that some of the Dunedin student rioters have a nerve feeling sorry for themselves and their potentially blemished brilliant careers? Does it occur to any of them that they've already had a lot more leeway than some poor, brown kid in South Auckland will ever get?
And no, I don't want to hear a thing about how university is the time to get this sort of thing out of your system. The idea that you'll leer it up at the expense of the community, all will be forgiven and you'll join the establishment and wait till daddy gets you a membership at the Northern Club has never washed with me. Once a fuckwit, always a fuckwit.
In the past, I've been mindful of the fact that Dunedin should be grateful for its student population, and the money and vitality it brings into what would otherwise be a very quiet town. It has seemed that the city's newspaper, and its council, too often want to see students as the enemy. But it seems now, thanks to the actions of a minority, that they have a point.
It may be that innocent bystanders copped some pepper spray, but it's hard to criticise the police when they're under fire with bricks and bottles, and when dickheads are setting light to things.
I even find myself in the unexpected position of agreeing with Judith Collins. Yikes.
Anyway, here's last night's rather misconceived Close Up live cross from Castle Street.
Also: we have two interesting topics on Media7 this week.
One is a return to Fiji – where both Radio NZ's Richard Pamatatau and Maori Television's Julian Wilcox have done excellent reporting recently. Wilcox' interview with Frank Bainimarama, which screened last night on Native Affairs (and will presumably appear here at some point) was a study in tension, and Pamatatau went off the beaten track for his stories. They'll both be on a panel.
Also, we'll look at the tenth anniversary of the 100% Pure New Zealand brand. Is it due for a refresh? And should we feel bad about the gap between the "pure" marketing and the grubby reality?
If you'd like to join us from 5pm tomorrow for the recording at TVNZ, hit "reply" and let me know.
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eek - you're sounding old, Russ. but they are morons.
Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 218 posts Report
Seems to me that rich kids are no more, no less likely to drink and do stupid things than others in society. At university and other tertiary institutions, the drinking just gets a bit more organised. This isn't, for me, a moral tale of privilege but of the role alcohol plays in our society's ideas of fun.
I have to say that the police didn't impress me that much - if they had good community relations with the students associations, they could have worked with student marshalls, who would surely have created much less tension with the partying students. If you treat something like a riot, turning up in full gear, and making threatening statements beforehand, you're likely to get one.
Christchurch • Since Mar 2007 • 10 posts Report
Maybe so, but I challenge you to imagine those same images of riot on the streets of South Auckland. Would anyone be entertaining for even a fraction of a second the idea that it was all just a bit of good fun? Would there have been several years in which participants got off with diversion?
Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report
Yikes, I agree with these sentiments too. It is all rather dispiriting when you encounter students who regard getting pissed, missing lectures and assignments , accumulating debt and generally slacking off is more important than engaging with ideas, encountering the excitement of intellectual debate, enjoying the freedoms that will largely disappear once they get a job. Call me an idealist, if you will, but university days can really be glory days.
If they were my students, I would be happy to fail them, to make space for others who will use their time more wisely.
Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2562 posts Report
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Yep, Lucy, that was precisely my point.
Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report
ENSOC are being more than a little disingenuous in this too - reflagging the event this year as a "Charity" event (count the number of times the ENSOC president hasn't mentioned this fact), then saying it wasn't an ENSOC issue because most of the students arrested were from Dunedin.
Rangiora, Te Wai Pounamu • Since Nov 2006 • 261 posts Report
If you watch the 3 news clip that girl was in no way an innocent bystander, it was either her or someone that looked identical to her leaning out of the Window having a go at the police. A police officer then closes the window to shut her up. So the pepper spraying must have happened after that.
I was disappointed that TV3 had that footage and spliced it into the interview without showing her, and questioning her actions
Wellington • Since Jan 2009 • 54 posts Report
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Seriously, I wonder if part of the problem is that there’s no Vietnam, , French nukes, Springbok tour, or even a cut back in funding to get some meaningful rebellious thing out of the system.
So boredom fills the void, and you get this stupidity.
I mean; 2nd year Accounting students, complete with cell phones, throwing bricks at policemen because... not sure really.
Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1162 posts Report
I fully agree with Russell that the students are idiots, and that if it was a less privileged bunch the response would much less sympathetic.
But that this turned into what it did is at least partly the fault of the police. I have a strong belief that if people are having fun, and not hurting anyone, then there isn't a cause for the police to come in and start breaking things up by force. That's when riots start. A burning couch will make a mess, and is an idiotic thing to do, but if it's burning in the middle of the road it isn't actually much of a hazard.
WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report
The problem is that we live in an immature society, and it isn't just a problem with students. If you were to import one those coin operated vending machines from Japan that sells beer, whisky & sake & put it anywhere in New Zealand I sincerely doubt it would last a single night.
They can solve the problem of next years Undie 500 with the fun combination of water cannons, pepper spray & tazers but that doesn't solve the actual problem, it just removes a symptom....
Wellington • Since Sep 2009 • 21 posts Report
Has policy changed in recent years? Because I remembered this
when I saw the news item
"Spray was needed "to get compliance" in areas where bottles were being thrown from, he said. "
And in that piece and in the close-up piece the police rejected any notion that they had been heavy handed. Yet the news piece shows a guy being pepper sprayed I'm pretty sure to just wipe the smug look off his face.
It's one thing for students behave like drunken thugs and regret it in the morning, but the police should be held to higher standards and yet when given the chance to reflect upon their behaviour remain unrepentant.
Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 118 posts Report
Actually, it's pretty easy.
The police are justified in using pepper spray (or other reasonable force depending on the circumstances) to do the following:
act in self-defence;
act in defence of someone else;
suppress a riot.
They are not justified in using force to "get compliance". And if police want that power they can ask Parliament to pass a law giving them that power. But until then, they can beg off.
Arrest and charge rioters. Arrest and charge brick- and bottle-throwers. That's the job. Otherwise "getting compliance" is not.
Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3215 posts Report
Regarding 100% pure, we should be VERY ashamed of the gap between perception and reality. Can we not control the belching diesel disgraces of our vehicular shame? Must we allow farmers to flush their effluvient into our waterways without recourse? Must we continue to allow an unregulated Power industry to burn coal as if this were Victorian England?
It is only the saving grace of a very small population that prevents us resembling China or the U.S. in it's unrepentent toxification of the environment. Oh, and STOP buying so much bottled fucking water!
Auckland • Since Aug 2007 • 35 posts Report
I agree there were plenty of morons out and about that weekend.
We have been reminded that just because you get into Uni dosen't make you a responsible young adult..that takes more time.
It seems a large number of young people were spoiling for a fight with police and thats just what they got...I just wonder if there was a better way of avoiding that.
Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 221 posts Report
When it gets so much media play as being riots, it is sure to become self fulfilling. The students show up, intending to cause trouble and at least some of the police turn up, intending to smash some students heads.
point chev • Since Apr 2008 • 44 posts Report
Sainsbury's coverage was hilarious and stupid. The kids in the background looked fairly happy that TVNZ were covering their party in an A-List/Norrie Montgomery style almost. The student rep repeated his pre-rehearsed sound-bite a couple of times - he's got a big future in Wellington ahead of him perhaps.
This is a stupid situation that could have been headed off at the pass. This event is organised by Canterbury students and Dunedin has to deal with them - sort of like a drunk and slow-moving cannonball run. If I organised 500 of my friends to do the same I imagine the cops would stop us by Lincoln and tell us to go home or be arrested. Especially having pulled the same stunt the year before with similar results.
@Lucy Stewart has a great point about South Auckland. Can you imagine Close Up broadcasting from outside the Killer Bees HQ last year with a party going on behind him?
Many of the rioters aren't students. They are just kids running amok - which is fine sometimes but this lot were basically police sanctioned. My slightly older brother went to university and I chose to go straight to work (studying wasn't my thing I'm afraid) but that didn't stop me hanging out with the IH, Grafton and O'Rourke students all year when I was 16 and attending almost every function they went to. Orientation week was a highlight. The pub crawl could be fairly disruptive but we didn't destroy property or assault anyone. No laws were broken except the ones that involved getting drunk or stoned. If I had become a trouble-maker I would have been branded a "uni student" by the press at the time.
I wonder whether they'll have another crack at the undie 500 next year. If they do I imagine that it will be a lot more like the real Cannonball Run with the Police actually bothering to stop them instead of pointing them in the right direction to Dunedin...
New Zealand • Since May 2009 • 371 posts Report
Heh. Firstly, the telly almost always makes it look worse than it actually was. Having seen the cops in action when the cameras ARE NOT around, I suspect a fair amount of "Pols 101 Lab: Field Activity - The Power of the State" is dished out on other nights of the week.
Secondly, like or not, having a fuckwit with a degree and a good job is better than having a fuckwit without one and unable to get a break because of a conviction. That is why the spawn of the elites always get a better deal from the system than the poor. The system is held in place by the elites to serve their interests. It is one of the foundation stones of capitalism.
Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report
the numbers...too many damn numbers...
Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report
Never mind alcohol or the Undie 500 or whatever. I blame the live cross.
Both TV 1 and 3 have featured, on successive days, the obligatory and pointless live cross to a reporter (generally looking harassed and embarrassed) standing in front of Dunedin students. And guess what? They were jumping around in the background, making various gestures to the camera, delighted to be the centre of attention. Didn't see that coming, eh?
A TV network meeting, today:
"OK, team, let me run this by you ... Celebrity Live Binge Drinking ... Fridays after Shortland Street? Ratings winner, yes?"
Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1333 posts Report
There does seem to be an attitude in Dunedin (and NZ) that university students are a class above the hoi polloi. Young men and women getting up to larks and japes, which they shouldn't be held to account for as they are the future leaders of our country. We were amazed when we moved to this part of the world at the leniency shown students by civic leaders and police.
It is a bit unfair to blame the Undie 500 for the problems in Dunedin. The Hyde street party has been a riot in previous years and this year the Toga parade down George street was a disgusting display. Dunedin students don't need much of an excuse to burn couches, throw bottles, vomit and urinate.
Dunedin • Since Jun 2008 • 186 posts Report
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My impression is that the police were determined to stamp down on any potential trouble. I'm not one to blame the police (I know they have a hard job to do), but I can also see that going into a situation with a "we'll take no shit from these kids" attitude might have made the situation worse.
The whole South Auckland thing is a red herring. If this had occurred in South Auckland and the kids involved were first-time offenders they probably would get diversion. I find it ironic that people seem to think these Otago students should be punished because they're white and middle class.
Let's have some sanity. Sure the students involved deserve a kick up the bum and a night in the cells. But they are young, and young people do stupd things, and most of them probably won't be a bother to police again. Do we really need to make criminals of these people?
I'm prepared to give most people a chance. For all we know some of the arrests might be over quite minor things.
West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report
Come on simon g, I did see one guy in the background holding up a sign pointing people to his TradeMe auction - if that's not entrepreneurship, I don't know what is. First productive thing I've seen the news do in a long time.
Otherwise: not a lot of comment. The kids were behaving like dicks, but I don't think the cops did a lot to ameliorate the situation. Others above have pointed out that we have some serious attitude problems in New Zealand, and not just towards alcohol.
And I'm with Graeme - there is a clear shot of 4-5 students backing away from the Police, and one gets some pepper-spray in the face for his troubles. He might have been a dick, he might have been mouthing off, but he was backing away with his hands visible. That is not justifiable use.
Since Dec 2008 • 161 posts Report
Public Servant on a tea-break.,
“Seriously, I wonder if part of the problem is that there’s no Vietnam, , French nukes, Springbok tour, or even a cut back in funding to get some meaningful rebellious thing out of the system.
So boredom fills the void, and you get this stupidity.”
I think you’re being too generous, there are still protesters, and most protesters I know have to have self-discipline and a commitment to the larger issues. No such behaviour here. These people are adults, the furore around last year’s events should have been indicative enough about what would happen following a repeat performance this year.
If the offenders thought that, for some reasons, the law in Dunedin would be bent to allow criminal behaviour because a bunch of crappy cars had just arrived from Christchurch, maybe they are socially not ready to graduate.
“Call me an idealist, if you will, but university days can really be glory days.
If they were my students, I would be happy to fail them, to make space for others who will use their time more wisely.”
I agree with Geoff, not just because I went to Waikato, and had many happy days learning how to think, and how to be me.
Wellington • Since Apr 2008 • 67 posts Report
According to the students it's all the cop's fault. "Turning up in riot gear when we were just having a bit of fun, they provoked us so we had to throw bottles. We were only doing it as a "charity fundraiser" and we did promise we'd behave ourselves after last year. Nobody warned us this would happen, we got arrested and now our futures are ruined. Boo hoo."
Get a grip and get a life.
Whatakataka Bay Surf Club… • Since Apr 2008 • 148 posts Report
Fail to see the newsworthiness of this "riot".
Drunk students' skulls get cracked by police batons is a rite of passage for both sides.
To paraphrase John Waters: if your child hasn't been arrested as a teenager, there must be something wrong with him.
Waiheke Island • Since Feb 2007 • 178 posts Report