Youth binge-drinking across New Zealand is leading to the establishment of community patrols.
With Kaikoura experiencing its share of bad publicity, a group of community-minded people are getting behind police to ensure a safer environment.
The Kaikoura patrol is made up of representatives from police, hospitality industry and concerned residents, and has been growing since the end of summer. It is looking out for both Kaikoura's youth and its visitors.
It now has about 20 members but those behind the initiative would like to see more people volunteer.
Kaikoura deputy mayor and publican Neil Pablecheque is part of the group. He said youth drinking was a problem throughout New Zealand today and something people needed to tackle, with some parents to blame for buying alcohol for their children.
He compared the law to that in Australia, where drinking under the age of 18 is totally off-limits.
"Here it's parents giving kids alcohol at an early age. To me, Aussie's got it right and we haven't," he said. "The bill is going through Parliament now. The Government has got to seriously look at it. We need them to push harder. We are starting to see kids drinking under the age of 14 now and it's ridiculous."
Mr Pablecheque was on duty with the group on Saturday night, and said he encountered numerous under-age drinkers who were either passed out in gutters or vomiting and urinating in the street.
Police were fully involved from 1.30am till 3am because of drunken behaviour in the town, he said, with many of those responsible having come from a private function. "It was quite an eye-opener. Most of them were under age. It makes you wonder how they got supplied the alcohol. Where were the responsible adults?"
Mr Pablecheque said the group acted as the eyes and ears of police, to keep an eye on what was going on and to keep the community safe.
They did not get involved in any situation but could observe, assess what was happening and call police at the first sign of trouble. "It's good to have people out there. It's about the community taking ownership."
Sergeant Barry Hansen said this was a key advantage because police were able to respond and deal with situations, often before they had the chance to escalate.
"The results so far are that we have been able to deal with stuff straight away ... the cameras have helped, too, with identifying people in the street after incidents."
The group is co-ordinated by Leanne Syme, who got involved after deciding she had the time to spare and wanted to help make a positive difference for the community. She says the group is looking for many more volunteers. All that's required is a police clearance and an interest in the community's wellbeing.
- The Marlborough Express