Problem possum drinking game 'nothing new'
Thursday 3 May 2012 2:01 p.m.
People partaking in a popular drinking pursuit "possum" are causing headaches for staff at Dunedin's Botanic Garden, who are forced to clean up broken bottles, food scraps and vomit left behind.
The drinking game, played by the city's students, involves participants sitting in a tree like possums while consuming large volumes of alcohol.
It ends when the players descend the tree voluntarily or fall from it.
Dunedin City Council gardens and cemeteries team leader Alan Matchett says garden staff first came across possum players about four years ago.
Since then, he says, the game has grown in popularity to the point where it is "not uncommon" for garden staff or security guards to have to chase players away.
Mr Matchett told the Otago Daily Times food scraps, broken bottles and vomit are often left behind, which is a concern for other users of the garden.
However, Joe Stockman, editor of Otago University's student magazine Critic, told NZ Newswire the game is nothing new.
"This drinking game's been around for the 10 years that I've been on campus. It's definitely not new in any way, shape or form."
He says the game is usually played by second-year students as part of a scarfie tradition.
"It's kind of one of those crazy, zany things that you can do and the Botanic Garden is the easiest place to find a tree to climb."
Mr Stockman says it's a problem when people leave rubbish behind and damage old trees, but he thinks the complaints are just "re-hashing old news".
"It's just one of those things that students are going to do and you just have to deal with it when it does happen."
A university spokesman told the Otago Daily Times there have been two occasions this year where students have been caught by Campus Watch drinking in trees and causing a public nuisance in the garden.