20 Oct 2015

Boozy student ball 'utterly predictable'

5:29 pm on 20 October 2015

It is "utterly predictable" a boozy, student-organised ball which left 48 teens needing medical help turned out the way it did, a principal says.

The event was organised by Wellington College students and parents and held at Shed 6 on Queens Wharf on Saturday. About 800 people attended.

It ended with 48 teens seeking medical help for alcohol-related illness or injuries, and police are investigating.

Wellington College principal Roger Moses

Wellington College principal Roger Moses Photo: Supplied

Wellington College principal Roger Moses said he knew of the event but that it was not organised by the school. It was supposed to be alcohol-free, and he suspected students had pre-loaded and sneaked alcohol in.

"These things are so utterly predictable," he said.

"I think it just illustrates the real difficulty of running these events, the problems through what they call pre-loading are immense."

A culture of binge-drinking prevailed in New Zealand, despite the alcohol education available, Mr Moses said.

"We've got an alcohol problem in our society and, of course, the response to that is to teach students to drink responsibly, we don't have these problems overseas and so on, but it seems that these issues are so deeply embedded in the psyche of our nation.

"Sadly it's all very well saying that we should educate the students and so on but there appear to be a significant minority, and I think we have to stress here that we are talking about a minority, who are not going to think back to the classes that they've had in health education."

There had not been a school-sanctioned ball in more than 20 years due to such problems, Mr Moses said.

A Wellington City Council spokesperson said the council supplied 20 security guards with the venue, and organisers requested the presence of Wellington Free Ambulance staff.

No liquor licence was issued, and there was not supposed to be any alcohol at the venue, the spokesperson said.

The outcome did not sit well with the council, especially given it involved under-age drinkers just metres away from Wellington harbour.

Uni hall 'like a war zone'

Police are also investigating a Saturday night party at Victoria University's Katharine Jermyn Hall which left the eighth floor "like a war zone".

"The whole eighth floor, a lot of ceiling tiles had been smashed, I think by peoples' heads. There were all sorts of drinking games going on, there was plaster everywhere on the floor," one witness said.

"I know for a fact that one young man has been charged with wilful damage."

Another said people were trying to have a good time "and some people just took it a bit further than maybe it needed to go".

"But you know, drunk people will be drunk people."

The 26 students who lived on level eight had had to be moved to other parts of the building, a university spokesperson said.