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Safety precautions were carried out at Vinegar Hill

Wed 6 Jan 2016 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Differing views are emerging regarding this year’s Vinegar Hill camping festivities after a man was badly injured on New Year’s Eve at the lgbti camping hot spot.   Dion Leslie, who has long been involved in community organisations such as the Wellington Outgames and is secretary to the Queen of Vinegar Hill, says despite comments made by some campers, there were a number of medics onsite and pre-festivity safety checks were undertaken to ensure the safety of those attending. Leslie, who is also a former Queen and who has been attending the Vinegar Hill celebrations for 14 years, says previous to the event the site was checked by a volunteer and community member from the Hunterville fire service who gave the all clear. Two weeks before festivities kicked off, a fire permit was issued. Following an incident involving a 27-year-old community member who tripped and fell into the main bonfire, Leslie says the Fire Brigade, who attended the call-out, assured organisers there was no risk of further issues. The Vinegar Hill campsite had three medics on the ground; two of which are paramedics with St John Ambulance and one emergency department nurse who treated the injured man until emergency services were able to take him up the hill. Leslie says all medics are community members who generously volunteer their time and make their services available to campers should it be needed. The injured man was flown to Hutt Valley Hospital who say they are unable to provide information on his condition or progress. With camping held on Manawatu District Council land, administered by the Council, Vinegar Hill festivities are not part of a formal event as such, but are a gathering of family and friends wishing to celebrate the holiday period. The Vinegar Hill campsite, on the banks of the Rangitikei River near SH1, is traditionally split in two during the holiday period, with the LGBTI campers down one end of the site. Leslie says unfortunately the other area is usually where the problems occur and this was evident this year with reports of theft, a large fight and four Police call-outs. This season the previous year’s Queen had volunteers set up between both campsites to check people for intoxication and ensure people were wearing wristbands and had paid their fees says Leslie. The Vinegar Hill Gay Camping Facebook page has has a large number of people sharing positive memories of their holidays over the past few days and expressing their gratitude to those who were involved in organisation of the festivities. [Editors note: Our journalist attempted to contact a number of people to get a broader initial view of the events that took place at Vinegar Hill but received little response.]    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Wednesday, 6th January 2016 - 12:07pm

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