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The Nelson Photo News



Motueka's Seasonal Problem

Motueka has had a seasonal worker problem for a long time, but until this season the problem, in the main, has been to get workers to bring in the harvest of tobacco and hops. This year the problem is different - and unpleasant. Seasonal workers are drawn to this area every year, and it is understandable that the calibre of some of them has been sub-standard. This year, however, the percentage of undesirables appears to have increased, with a resultant lowering of social behaviour. For the first time, also, the new licensing laws have given workers freer and greater access to alcohol and latitude to drink, and the whole problem, as far as the residents of Motueka are concerned, has been intensified by the extraordinarily heavy demands placed upon a taxi industry which, for the greater part of the year, is almost in the doldrums. These three root causes of Motueka's troubles this season have combined to make the streets unsafe, or at the least, places to be avoided after dark. There have been stories of molestation on the streets by individuals and gangs; of a car being turned over by a gang; of vandalism, hooliganism and immorality, and the Magistrate's Court has been kept busy handling the countless charges preferred against many seasonal workers.

What's the answer to the problem? More police on Friday and Saturday nights? A restriction of licensing hours? Police dogs? More severe penalties? A more rigid screening of seasonal labour? The answers to these questions have already vexed the minds of Motueka businessmen and the police. No satisfactory answer has been forthcoming yet.

The pictures on this and the next two pages were taken by Motueka photographer John Sharp, one Saturday night. The one on this page shows the crowd in High Street awaiting transportation and filling in time drinking their weekend supplies.


While we do not pretend to know the answers to any of the questions we posed on the preceding page, we would like to make one fact clear - and a suggestion. In nearly every instance in New Zealand where the police meet with trouble, the underlying cause of it has been the consumption of liquor on the streets. As an example we quote New Year's Eve in Nelson this year and other years. Surely, then, one of the answers to this problem, is to stop drinking on the streets, by Statute. In both these pictures liquor is obviously being consumed on public highways.


From the inquiries we have made we are certain that no blame for the troubles being experienced in Motueka can be laid at the door of a large section of the seasonal labour force. Having fun and a few drinks after a hard day's work are the rights of every man and woman, and they are enjoyed on every social plane. But the behaviour of many in the district this season has gone far beyond this and, unfortunately, the resultant furore has tended to label all seasonal workers with a bad name. The girls above are having fun, but they're having it in a sensible and civilised manner - in a hotel, with proper facilities. So, also, are the patrons of the hotel below. But we wonder just what's going to happen after all that beer being carted away from a hotel (left) is consumed.

One thing is certain, the answers to the problem must be found. Maybe they'll emerge from the special meeting to be called in June by the Mayor of Motueka (Mr Thomason) to discuss the problem.