Early closing for bars during Seafest

22:50, Oct 03 2012

Bar owners in Kaikoura have reached a compromise after Liquor Licensing Authority requests to shut pubs at 1.30am in an attempt to mitigate trouble associated with Seafest this weekend.

A meeting between licensees, the police and liquor licensing inspector David Shovel was held this week to discuss the request.

Speaking on behalf of Kaikoura's Hospitality New Zealand members, regional manager Jeanette Swift said the licence-holders were happy to compromise on the request and close early on Saturday night, but would retain a ''business as usual'' approach tomorrow night.

The compromise will see bars impose a one-way-door policy from 1am, or earlier as they see fit, and close the bars at 2am on Sunday.

The request came about after Seafest led to serious trouble and bad publicity for the event and the town last year. Many of those who caused trouble had not been to Seafest or even bought tickets.

Some had not frequented the bars either, but had drunk in their cars, on the beach or at accommodation premises before heading into the West End to cause a disturbance.


Another issue last year was the lack of a police presence as the Rugby World Cup had police resources tied up in other areas.

This year, police have promised they will have a heavy presence, starting at 9am on Saturday and working until the bars close.

Extra police staff will be brought in from across the top of the South Island to ensure a presence on the streets to enforce the liquor ban and at Seafest.

The liquor ban is in force for much of the town, with signs indicating where the consumption of alcohol is prohibited.

Sergeant Julian Lewis, of Kaikoura, said police would be tackling the weekend partygoers with a ''firm but fair'' approach.

Anyone found in breach of the liquor ban would be asked to tip their drink out, he said, and those who refused would be arrested.

A secure lock-up bus was being brought in to assist the police with dealing with those arrested, and anyone found to be commiting more serious crimes would be sent for processing in Blenheim.

Police would conduct walk-throughs of licensed premises throughout the weekend, he said.