Drunken London Waitangi Day claim defended
MICHELLE COOKE AND KATE NEWTON
What do you think of the Waitangi Day pub crawl in London?
The expat who complained about New Zealanders drunk and shameful display at the Waitangi Day pub crawl in London says he stands behind his comments "100 per cent".
Did you take part in Waitangi Day celebrations in London? Email us your experience at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kiwi Dylan Clements has filed a complaint with New Zealand High Commissioner Derek Leask, saying the drunken antics of those who participated in the annual event were an embarrassment to New Zealand.
About 4000 Kiwis took to the streets on Saturday to celebrate Waitangi Day, moving from one pub to another.
Clements said he was compelled to complain to the high commission after witnessing kiwis urinating on public monuments, vomiting and throwing snow at tourists.
"I'm a proud New Zealander and I don't want a small, few people making the country I call home look bad overseas," he said.
"I didn't see just one or two cases, I saw a large amount of cases."
But people who were there dispute his claims, saying participants were well-behaved despite drinking.
Participants have posted numerous photos and posts on Facebook saying how much fun they had and how disappointed they are with Clement's comments.
"It was a lot better than I expected actually, I thought it would be a lot more like he described but it was all really positive, it was really fun and I'd definitely do it again," Jessica Middleton said.
The former Aucklander said she saw one person throwing up in nine hours, which was a "pretty good effort".
Even the police have said the event was a success and that they actually enjoyed policing the festivities.
"Because the general demeanour of everybody is really amicable. We ask people to move on and stop doing stuff and they stop doing it," Westminster Borough Inspector Bruce Middlemiss said.
"During the day there were no arrests that I'm aware of, no fights or specific recklessness," he said.
"There was urinating and showing of body parts and bits and pieces like that but when you've got nearly 4000 people on a pub crawl it's difficult to accommodate them when they need to go to the toilet."
Clements said he feels like he has been "crucified" for speaking his mind.
He said he didn't want to see the event banned but thought local authorities needed to be better equipped to handle next year's event, by making sure there were more toilets and rubbish bins to use.
Middlemiss said the police received some minor complaints about litter and public urination, which was understandable as residents would have been confused by the event and the "New Zealand whirlwind" which passed through their town.
Prime Minister John Key said he was not surprised New Zealanders in London took part in a rowdy Waitangi Day pub crawl, saying "celebrating is part of what they do" in the British capital.
"On one level it's great people all over the world are celebrating Waitangi Day. We would hope they would not get out of control."
Reports of bad behaviour should not be "over-egged", he said.
"New Zealanders are well known for having a pretty good time when they are out in London. I'd encourage them to have good behaviour where they can.
Key admitted he too celebrated Waitangi Day when he lived in London by "having a couple of beers".
"I kept my shirt on though."
Now in its 13th year, the pub crawl's route follows the London Underground's Circle Line, which forms a loop beneath central London.
Photos posted on Facebook showed a man scaling a lamp post and another giving a passerby the fingers. Another participant is pictured wearing just a G-string. Other photos showed people in a variety of costumes and police holding the New Zealand flag.
But the crowd's overall behaviour undermined New Zealand's international reputation, Clements said.
"I'm a travel agent. I see the campaigns that the New Zealand Tourism Board does - they're spending millions of pounds on advertising campaigns when people here are seeing Kiwis drunk and p...... in the streets.
"Imagine if, back in New Zealand, thousands of Chinese people urinated down Queen Street after Chinese New Year celebrations - the public would, perhaps unfairly, view Chinese as disorderly, dirty, careless people.
"In the same respect, the Waitangi Day Pub Crawl unfairly represents all New Zealanders living in London."
Waitangi Day deserved respect. "It is not a day that should be represented by drunk Kiwis wreaking alcohol-fuelled havoc on the streets of London."
Labour's foreign affairs spokesman Phil Goff said nobody minded people having a good time but vomiting and defecating in public didn't do much for New Zealand's reputation in Europe.
"I've no problem if they're crazy enough to take their shirts off and do a haka in the middle of the snow in London in February, fine.
"But I know that when I was living in London and you saw people on the tube that were vomiting and urinating you took offence at that."
People at home wouldn't like it is a group of English people behaved similarly here, he said.
"By all means go have a good time but when it comes to behaving offensively in a public place, it's not on for people to be damaging our reputation by behaving in our way."
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