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'Totally unfair': Principal blasts Eden Park management over cancelling school ball

Author
Katie Harris, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 25 Jun 2022, 11:13am
Eden Park. (Photo / Anna Sarjeant)
Eden Park. (Photo / Anna Sarjeant)

'Totally unfair': Principal blasts Eden Park management over cancelling school ball

Author
Katie Harris, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 25 Jun 2022, 11:13am

An Auckland principal says Eden Park's decision not to host school balls is "totally unfair" and a "knee-jerk" reaction to incidents involving other schools.

Macleans College principal Steve Hargreaves told the Herald the school got a call "out of the blue" on Thursday from the catering manager informing them all balls at the venue - including theirs which is booked in five weeks - had been cancelled due to recent trouble at one school ball.

The tickets have already been printed, sold and paid for, and Hargreaves said they would now struggle to find another venue in the city to accommodate them.

"This seems like a knee-jerk reaction from Eden Park management to one school ball incident that's just happened. I think they need to be prepared to work with schools rather than just cut us off at the knees."

Although the organisation offered two alternate venues - North Shore Events Centre and Mount Smart Stadium - Hargreaves said they were not suitable due to their location and size.

He told the Herald the venue still hosts other large events and the school has a long history of "incident-free" balls at Eden Park, which they would like to have taken into consideration.

"And not be lumped into schools that have had trouble."

A spokesperson for Eden Park said that on a number of occasions over the past few years, there had been disruptive and potentially dangerous conduct in the streets around Eden Park while students were being dropped off or collected from their school balls.

"This has caused significant distress to local residents and posed a risk to the safety of our staff and potentially the students and teachers.

"While we understand this has not occurred at every school ball, and despite implementing additional security measures and protocols, the behaviour has now escalated to an unacceptable level and unfortunately means we cannot offer Eden Park as a ball venue to any school."

Hargreaves said he has now offered to mitigate complaints by locals about drop-offs and pick-ups by providing buses to the venue.

"It's totally unfair, and I think they aren't considering the fact that as a school we have a perfect track record and we are lined up to have another incident-free ball - all of the planning has been done."

Some concerned parents had already emailed him regarding the situation, he said.

Macleans College principal Steve Hargreaves. Photo / Dean Purcell

Macleans College principal Steve Hargreaves. Photo / Dean Purcell

Hargreaves told students the bad news yesterday, but also said he had a meeting booked in on Monday with the venue's management where he was hoping to broker a solution.

The spokesperson said to ensure each school could hold their ball on their selected date, their team proactively contacted two venues which confirmed they could accommodate the required number of ball guests, were available on the dates each school had chosen, and could offer a comparable school ball package.

"It is extremely disappointing that the disrespectful conduct of a limited number of people has now impacted a much wider group."

The spokesperson said additional measures had already been put in place to mitigate the risk of disruptive behaviour in the streets surrounding Eden Park, such as arranging increased security and working with each school to agree on event protocols including transportation options.

However, they said, the behaviour continued.
Last week the Eden Park Trust Board announced it would be reviewing all future school bookings after an irate Eden Park neighbour said they wanted school balls banned from the stadium, deeming them a "complete nightmare" for residents.

The resident, who requested to remain anonymous, said loud music, congested traffic and antisocial behaviour she witnessed by those linked to the Avondale College school ball, held last week at Eden Park, have been constant problems for years.