Monday, August 21, 2006

The annual ‘Undie 500‘ road-trip, in which 400 Canterbury and Otago university students took part, turned into a riot when students started throwing bottles around and lighting fires. The riot started in Dunedin on Castle Street North, which is known for its parties. In the Undie 500 road-trip, students go from Christchurch to Dunedin and along the way stopping at five pubs. It is the biggest pub crawl of its kind in Australasia.

The police found students watching the New Zealand Fire Service battling the fires they had lit.

Maggie Kleist, an Otago University student, said: “The police were so outnumbered, and people were just getting each other worked up more and more and more and it was yeah, pretty intense.”

Riot police then turned up to move students away with batons but more bottles were thrown and more fires were lit. “At this stage police moved the crowd with the use of batons,” Allan Grindell, Police Senior Sergeant said.

Paul Chong, Students Association president, said: “Couch-burning and bottle-smashing aren’t serious enough offences to justify bringing in baton-wielding police.”

Allan Grindell said: “Many in the crowd were heavily intoxicated and drinking from bottles and cans.”

An unnamed student said: “This is just out of control.”

Sergeant Wayne Pitcaithly says 95 arrests were made. The police continued to dispersed crowds for 45 minutes.

“People were throwing bottles, everyone was getting arrested, the riot police came, and they were hitting people with their batons,” said Canterbury Student Josh Binns.