Full interview: Dunedin mayor Dave Cull

  • 25/02/2016
Dave Cull (Paul Henry)
Dave Cull (Paul Henry)

University of Otago's Orientation Week is well underway, with the city once again full of students burning couches and attending alcohol-fuelled parties.

More than a dozen people have been arrested so far, and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull says it's important the city lets students have a good time, but there must be limits.

"O Week in Otago is pretty special, there's no doubt about that," says Mr Cull, but he wants to "make it safe and control it for the benefit of the participants, the students".

Some of the measures introduced have been holding events in places like Forsyth Barr Stadium, where people can be more easily supervised, he says.

"It's a matter of keeping that balance  we want them to have fun, we want all of us to have fun, but we want to keep people safe."

Traditionally students burn couches during the week, but Mr Cull says that practice has to stop.

"The penalties are pretty stiff. If you get identified burning a couch, not only will the police have a go at you the university will probably biff you out."

All in all, Mr Cull says students have become better behaved over the years, but there remain challenges for the university city.

"If you go back a few years, not only in Dunedin but in other places -- we had riots. That is a thing of the past, this is tame compared to that. But we still have a much higher density of students living in the campus, we're the only really live-in campus in the country. We have about 20,000 students in a very tight area, they're young, first time away from home, naturally there are risks so we have to balance that risk, keeping them safe but allowing them to have a bit of fun."