Emergency services say the Hyde St Keg Party's unsafe, but students and others say it was a success.
If the Hyde St Keg Party is cancelled it’ll just happen somewhere else, says a student living on the street.
Police have labelled the party unsafe and St John Ambulance has questioned whether the event should be allowed to continue after the windscreen of an ambulance was smashed.
Almost 4,000 people packed into Hyde Street on Saturday for the party - one of the last big student-run events on the city’s calendar. Twelve people were arrested for a range of offences including assaulting security staff, fighting, disorder and offensive behaviour. Seven of those arrested are understood to be students.
St John staff treated about 40 partygoers for minor injuries on the day and seven were admitted to hospital, although none with serious problems.
University of Otago student and Hyde Street resident Eddie Scoular has attended the party for three years and says Saturday’s event, was the “best one so far”.
“Yeah there were some people arrested and kicked out, but nothing we weren’t expecting. Everyone had a great time.”
Eddie says considering the huge numbers of students involved, the problems were minimal.
“If you go to town on a Saturday night, where there’s like 500 people in a club, you’re guaranteed to see at least 20 people kicked out. It’s just that Hyde Street gets way more attention.”
As of last night, police were still looking for a man who shoulder-barged an ambulance windscreen, showering a paramedic in glass fragments.
“It’s just one guy making the rest of us look shit,” Eddie says.
St John spokesman Ian Henderson says it was difficult to believe someone would consider damaging a vehicle used to help save lives.
“Whether it's a good thing or not, I think that's up for the university to discuss with the students' association and they need to look at whether it's something that needs to carry on.”
Inspector Mel Aitken, of Dunedin police, released a statement saying the event was “far from being what police consider safe” and that the alcohol-related harm “still remains too high.”
Eddie says it’s far better that the party continues as it is with OUSA and police involvement. “If they cancel it, the backlash will be that’ll pop up somewhere else, on another street, where police don’t have as much control.”
Otago University and Otago University Students Association have described partygoers as generally well behaved, and Saturday's event as one of the best in years.
University vice chancellor Harlene Hayne says despite the efforts of dozens of volunteers “a few partygoers caused problems”.
For the third year running the OUSA has sold tickets to the party to try to place a limit on numbers, banned glass and provided food and security.
OUSA president Paul Hunt says it’s “not possible” to prevent the student organised event that takes place in a private street. “What we do is work with the private residents in order to ensure they understand their responsibilities as well as paying for safety measures to be in place.”
Dunedin mayor Dave Cull has said previously the cost of the “public resource” for the party is about $125,000.
He told The Wireless today that the efforts of the OUSA, the university and other stakeholders made the latest event as safe as it could be. “But the big question is: Is it possible to have a street party with thousands of students drinking more than they should that’s actually safe?”