Police in the North Island town of Wanganui, New Zealand were forced to don riot gear early on New Year's Day morning as 200 drunken youths turned violent after New Year's Eve celebrations.
The New Zealand government recently enacted legislation allowing purchase and consumption of liquor by people over 18 - two years younger than the previous age limit.
The police restorative officer for Wanganui said this week: 'We have now brought in alcohol free zones in public places, so there is no drinking on the streets in the business district area. We have worked with councils and installed surveillance cameras.'
Police blamed extended licensing hours for the trouble, which was sparked by a 17-year-old smashing a shop window in the town.
For some time Wanganui had a
local by-law restricting drinking in public places, notably the city centre, but recent challenges to the by-law in other towns and cities have highlighted the need for central government action to enable the legality of such by-laws.
William Pearce, a local Wanganui resident and a security officer at Wanganui Council who witnessed the riots firsthand and has lived with the problems since then said: 'Youths congregated in large groups leading to problems that the police have had to deal with. This includes assaults, the occasional rape and murder.
'Parents are either oblivious to the actions of their children or simply do not care, often too busy drinking at the nearest pub themselves. There is a climate of lawlessness that can only be addressed by a change back to the old licensing law, together with adequate venues for youth.'