New Zealand Prime Minister John Key is downplaying reports of bad behaviour by Kiwis in London as doubts are cast on claims by an expatriate Kiwi.
Former Wellingtonian Dylan Clements, a London travel agent, has filed a complaint with New Zealand High Commissioner Derek Leask saying the drunken antics of Waitangi Day pub crawlers brought “great shame” on New Zealand.
Mr Key says it’s great that New Zealanders around the world celebrate Waitangi Day.
“It’s no great surprise to me that New Zealanders in London are doing that by having a few beers,” he said on Tuesday.
“We would hope they wouldn’t get out of control but I don’t think we should over-egg this thing – New Zealanders are well known for having a pretty good time in London.”
Mr Clements says he saw pub crawlers urinating and vomiting on famous landmarks, including Westminster Abbey and the Jewel Tower, and exposing themselves indecently on the street.
However, the pub crawl’s organiser Clint Heine says Mr Clements’ claims are exaggerated.
He told AAP the complaint was “heart breaking” because organisers tried to make the pub crawl a positive event.
“We work really hard over here in London to not be idiots,” Mr Heine said.
Westminster police had told Mr Heine they were surprised by the negative attention received by the event, given they had rated the day a success and made no arrests.
“Their officers want to work that day, they want to be there because they know that we’re just so much fun to be around, even after a few drinks,” Mr Heine said.
A few small instances of public urination were quickly dealt with and police were already looking forward to next year’s event, he said.
The pub crawl is in its 13th year and about 4000 are reported to have taken part on Saturday.