Angry response to illegal party on Wanaka's Ruby Island

Jude Battson wants to move "drunken tossers" off Ruby Island.
John Edens

Jude Battson wants to move "drunken tossers" off Ruby Island.

Furious Wanaka residents want the unknown organisers of an illegal event on Wanaka's Ruby Island to pay for damage and debris after Thursday's boozy session.

There have been calls for a liquor ban on the island, making it a smoke free reserve and installing an island warden.

Ruby Island Management Committee coordinator Jude Battson was unaware of the party until Friday and says she would gladly move on "drunken tossers".

Ruby Island volunteers Jude Battson and Andrew Penniket on Ruby Island in September.
MARJORIE COOK

Ruby Island volunteers Jude Battson and Andrew Penniket on Ruby Island in September.

"You are not welcome. If you think drinking is associated with water and the island, it is not ... I am more than willing to confront them. Watch out," Battson said.

READ MORE: Coastguard rescues drunks from island after party of 500 gets out of hand

Battson is now seriously considering installing a warden on the island from next year, for the two week peak summer season.

Drunken revellers on Ruby Island had to be helped ashore by Wanaka emergency services.
Supplied

Drunken revellers on Ruby Island had to be helped ashore by Wanaka emergency services.

Wanaka's emergency services have labelled the event as a disaster waiting to happen, after escorting more than 500 people from the island to shore and extinguishing a fire, believed started by a discarded cigarette.

Police and harbourmasters could not confirm exactly who organised the event.

Mackley Lindsey participated in the day and told Stuff via Facebook message "it was a great day and with a little bit more organising could be perfect".

"The fire was unfortunate but it only takes one dickhead to ruin it i guess. Good luck with your story and please try put some positivity into it."

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Lindsey said he did not know who the organisers were. "Hopefully one of the organisers can give a better insight," he said.

A much smaller Ruby Island drinking session last year is said to have gone under the radar.

The Ruby Swim co-organisers Eddie Spearing and Jamie Norman swam around the island at 6.45am on Friday morning and reported the debris.

"The place is a bloody mess," Spearing said on Facebook.

There were abandoned inflatables and debris at Waterfall Creek and on the island, as well under the water where it was too deep to get at.

Spearing said he and his friends could not understand why people had not cleaned up.

"There is nothing wrong with having a party but you have to clean up after yourself. We have to jump through hoops to run The Ruby. We want to know, what makes an event an event? If there's not an organisation, person or anybody and it happens collectively, then what is it?''

Wanaka Community Board deputy chairman Quentin Smith put in a request for service for the Queenstown Lakes District Council on Friday morning.

Harbourmasters Marty Black and Craig Blake would be assessing the damage on Friday afternoon.

Smith described the Ruby Island situation as "appalling" and suggested volunteer divers would be needed to help clean up. The organisers should foot the bill, Smith said.

As soon as the board reconvened in 2017 he would suggest a liquor ban for the island.

There is already a year-round fire ban.

Smith said he would also welcome a conversation about making the island smoke free.

There was a "disconnect" when semi-organised events became large scale and no-one took responsibility for them. The reason why event organisers had to get permits and resource consents was to ensure damage did not occur, he said.

"The key message is we don't want to stop people having a good time but we do expect people to be responsible and clean up after themselves," Smith said.

Harbourmaster Marty Black said the only focus for emergency services on Thursday was making sure everyone was safe.

"Anything like that must have an event plan. Over 200 people, you need resource consent," he said.

Battson has volunteered on Ruby Island for 19 years and said the debris "breaks my heart".

"None of these people ever turn up to help," she said.

Just one week earlier, she and volunteers had set up the island's picnic areas and single long drop toilet for public use.

"I can only imagine the state of the toilet," she said.

Ruby Island's management committee gets just $5,000 from the council each year. Volunteers do the maintenance and planting.

 - Stuff

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