Student Union Building damaged, one arrested
The NOFX show at Union Hall on March 2 ended in violence and building damage after a large number of ticket holders were refused entry.
In a statement to Salient, Union Manager Rainsforth Dix said the Hall’s capacity of 750 had been oversold by over 100 tickets, and that the Union believed there was a safety risk if further ticket holders were allowed inside. “Because of concerns about venue capacity and safety, Student Union staff contacted Campus Care and it was decided that because of safety concerns no further admissions would be allowed,” Dix said.
“When this decision was advised to the crowd, about fifty persons broke through the security barrier into the building. The police were called and when they arrived the crowd was quickly dispersed.”
Dix said the fifty who broke through the barrier were able to remain in the building, “as it was impossible to ensure they left safely.”
VUWSA Activities Officer Bernard-Bernard Galaxy provided Salient with a copy of VUWSA’s Error Report and Documentation of Events for the NOFX show, which says there was a misunderstanding between VUWSA and the promoter, Dynamo Promotions, over ticket sales, with 806 tickets being sold in total. However, a post on PunkAs.com by Dave McDermott of Dynamo Promotions says the number of tickets sold was still less than that of the Pennywise show at the Union Hall last year.
The report says the decision to stop allowing entry to the show “resulted in the doors being rushed by angry ticket holders even after [Union Operations Manager Catriona McBean] had been advised against making that decision by multiple parties.”
According to the report, the ensuing rush resulted in four to five people receiving injuries substantial enough to require first aid and a “small scale riot and many break ins”.
Ironically, NOFX shirts sold at the show were printed with a fake news story, dated Wellington, March 2, with the headline “Kids riot at punk show.”
Dix says one person was later arrested following damage to a Student Union Building door on Mount Street, and that “further damage was discovered around the building as a result of attempted break-ins.”
Fire alarms were also set off and building power cut after the band had finished performing.
Galaxy’s report points out that during the building’s evacuation, it was discovered that the Union “doesn’t have an evacuation policy or plan…During this evacuation VUWSA executive member Melissa Barnard was punched in the face while trying to be a fire warden while a security guard let it happen.”
Ground floor doors to the Union building were also unsecured during the show, enabling people to gain access to the building and the show through the lift without paying for tickets.
Despite the Union’s responsibility for security, Dix told Salient that VUWSA must have unlocked and left open the doors.
VUWSA’s report has highlighted numerous security and safety issues, including “the near non-existent exterior door-security which made it possible to simply walk into the venue, the generally not-very-well-directed security inside the actual Union Hall itself which led to beer being spilt on a particularly expensive mixing console and of course the amount of damaged Union property.”
The report also says that there was “at least one broken nose with no visible trained first aid providers or first aid area, at least three sexual harassment complaints to VUWSA staff and the completely non-existent, Union-provided sexual harassment officers.”
Dix said the Union and VUWSA “had already agreed to review and document Orientation processes before this incident occurred, “we will be extending this to include large VUWSA events, including ticketing, and focusing even more strongly on safety and security.”
In future, ticket sales will be organized through VUWSA “unless a legally binding contractual agreement is signed relating to sales and refunds.”
Dynamo Promotions will offer refunds to ticket-holders on a case-by-case basis, and those who were denied entry can contact McDermott at email@example.com.