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March 16, 2009 | by  | in News |
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Big K gets the Big Finger

The owner of the infamous Wellington watering hole The Big Kumara is philosophical about a trespass notice he was issued with by Victoria University of Wellington last week.

Jonno Huntington was issued with the notice advising him that he was forbidden from entering Victoria property, in accordance with Section 4.4.7 of the University’s Security Management Guidelines.

The Section makes it an offence “Where staff, students, or members of the public have significantly breached University policy, failed to comply with a request made by the Vice Chancellor or endangered persons or property.”

Huntington was asked by University staff to desist in writing advertisements for his bar on University property in chalk, a request he gladly complied with. “The chalking is probably a fair call. They said it was completely unacceptable; they’re cracking down on all chalking,” Huntington said.

“It’s private property, it’s fair enough. It’s just unfortunate I did it on the day before John Key came to open Te Puni, and they were worried about the cleanup cost.”

Huntington was also asked to desist in handing out Big Kumara flyers on campus – an offence “intended or likely to encourage the excessive consumption of alcohol.”

“What’s interesting is that they ask for approval for each advertisement on campus. It’s not in their policy; it’s something they just decided. The flyer advertised a $3000 party for wearing a toga, it didn’t mention drink prices or excessive consumption at all,” Huntington said.

Victoria University refused to answer specific inquiries from Salient regarding the specifics of Huntington’s trespass, citing privacy concerns.

The trespass is also particularly disruptive for Huntington on more than a business level; he is also a student, part way through a degree in Political Science.

“I was planning on finishing my degree over the next year, but I guess now I have to wait two years,” he said.

The trespass comes amid concerns from health groups such as Alcohol Health Watch, that alcohol advertisements targeted “vulnerable” groups like students; a concern Huntington does understand.

“I think one reason is that groups like ALAC and Alcohol Health Watch focus on students as a way of changing society, and I can understand why. As far as students go, it’s an image thing, but it’s more a general problem in society,” he said.

He also alluded to a policy of hypocrisy on the part of the University.

“It was such a boozeup,” Huntington said in reference to the annual Halls of Residence party, held in the Mount Street bar in the Student Union Building.

“I know that they were selling Vodka Ice cans, which are like 5% each at 8 bucks. And that’s just rocket fuel in a can. They made 10 grand on the bar, sweet as. But the next day? ‘Drinking’s terrible!”

Questions have been raised in recent times as to why New Zealand precipitates a binge drinking culture.

“An awful lot of cultures have institutionalised bingeing as a kind of time-out like Mardi Gras or New Year’s Eve, a culturally recognised period where a certain amount of acting out is acceptable,” a study conducted into binge drinking by Brown University in the United States concluded.

Huntington speculates that students in New Zealand indulge in a culture of bingeing more as a kind of anaesthesia from the slings and arrows of student life and pressure.

“There’s definitely an element of [anaesthesia] to the way people drink. Students are more and more drinking at home and getting very intoxicated before even going out,” he said.

“I think you want to talk about binge drinking, you should go down to the waterfront on a Friday night and see people between 25 and 45 drinking – 45-year-old men fighting like school kids,”

The Big Kumara has enjoyed a dearth of violent outbursts among patrons in recent times.

“We haven’t had a fight this year at the Kumara,” Huntington said.

In the end, Huntington felt that his willingness to engage with the University and make himself known played a major part in his rejection.

“I’ve always been willing to engage with the university. Whenever they’ve called up, I’ve answered, I’ve always given my name and I’ve always been open. I get the feeling that if I hadn’t been as open, if I hadn’t answered their emails and if I hadn’t returned their calls, I wouldn’t have been in this position.”

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Kia ora, biography box, kia ora.

Comments (5)

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  1. Kerry says:

    Jonno – good luck, prolly a better time to stick with bar management than finishing a Pols degree, anyway.

    Michael, you missed “past VUWSA general exec member” in your description of Mr Huntingdon. Before your time, I expect: known to Kelly, Greenbrook-Held & Trainor. Dusty had a hand in forming the personality of the now-bar-manager.
    Sources, dear boy. Always helps to try to interview people who know people.

  2. Gotta keep some powder dry, my dear Kerry, my dear person, my who dears wins.

  3. Moomama says:

    Kumera, Kumera, Kumera….be my sugar daddy! Man how awesome thaaat be!!!!!!!!!

  4. Big Kumara is scary

  5. Paula says:

    Go the Big Kumera!

    Woo hoo!

    Don’t worry Mr Huntington, I’ve had the big finger because of the Kumera too. Think his name was Jason.

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