Wellington musicians say they’ve had to call out sexual harassment from the stage

A Wellington musician says the latest deluge of sexual assault allegations against some in the Capital’s music scene are just “the tip of the iceberg”.

Rock performer Krash from ELK told the Herald he wasn’t shocked by the accusations as harassment toward women was “ever present” in the city’s nightlife.

Police have assigned 12 detectives to investigate the claims of sexual assault, drugging and violence after at least 60 people posted on social media about their alleged experiences with another group of men, some musicians.

Band mate, Blue, also wasn’t surprised at the accusations and said he’d witnessed people doing these things “in the flesh”. The incidents were not connected to the police investigation.

At one show it got so bad that Blue said he had to halt their performance to stop a man from accosting a woman on the dance floor.

He cut the music and told the crowd that they wouldn’t stand for that behaviour, which he said included the man grabbing the woman, who was dating Krash at the time, from behind.

“It’s such a constant thing.

“We’d have an awesome show and then we’d have a collection of girls, girlfriends or friends who would come up to us and say ‘that guy, that guy and that guy did this, and this’ [during the performance].”

For Krash, more often than not he said there was some form of sexual harassment incident within the crowd at their shows, and they perform one or two times a week on Courtenay Place.

He said he felt plagued by the level of harassment occurring and as time went on he began feeling uncomfortable with his then partner attending his shows because of it.

“I almost feel like I exposed her to it, because she’s in these positions because she loves me and wants to support me.”

The musician said while she was the true victim and faced the brunt of the attacks, he still felt horrible.

“It’s a mixture of guilt anxiety, jealousy, anger, a lot of anger, resentment and just helplessness.”

Krash wanted to speak out after the latest slew of allegations because it’s a “huge” issue for the Capital.

“I love Courtenay Place, and it’s awesome, and I’m not trying to be negative about what’s going on, but we can’t avoid it.”

In regard to the level of sexual misconduct incidents, Krash said it seemed that the Courtenay Place stretch was the worst place they’ve played – but the pair say the area is not to blame.

They said the venues and staff they’ve worked with were amazing in relation to dealing with harassment.

Krash said fixing the issue starts on a personal level and people need to confront their mates’ actions.

Since the allegations surfaced last week, the pair said they had noticed a shift in behaviour from crowds because they said people were becoming more vigilant.

Wellington city councillor Tamatha Paul has been helping complainants come together and seek help.

Paul said there are so many factors in Wellington that made it easier for sexual harassment to occur, including the concentration of bars in the CBD.

“When everything happened last week, I received heaps of messages from women who have just given up on going to town because every time that they had headed out they had been groped or had some other form of harassment happen to them.”

Following brawls earlier this year representatives from police, the hospitality and retail sectors as well as city councillors met to discuss a resolution to the spike in violence on Courtenay Place.

However, Paul said more still needed to be done.

Wellington Hospitality Group owner Matt McLaughlin who was involved in the talks said the fights earlier this year were gang-related and the CBD is not the “party vibe” it used to be.

“I don’t really want to say it’s dangerous, but there are certainly some pretty ugly goings on happening there [Courtenay Place] at the moment.”

He said for the last three years the industry has been heavily involved in the Don’t Guess the Yes sexual assault prevention campaign – which he said is a country-wide issue.

Another musician, who the Herald can’t name for legal reasons, said this behaviour was endemic in the Capital’s clubbing scene.

“I feel sorry for the 18-year-old girls, walking around getting their asses grabbed all night.

“It’s just a really bad culture.”

Last week Wellington bars and clubs declared bans on the accused men entering their venues, and other musicians spoke out in condemnation of the alleged acts.

On Tuesday police warned social media users not to share unverified information on social media.

The warning comes after “people who have absolutely nothing to do with the allegations” were publicly accused of being the offenders.

Police continue to ask anyone who has information that may assist with the investigation to call 105 and quote Operation Emerald.

Where to get help

• If it’s an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
• If you’ve ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone call the confidential crisis helpline Safe to Talk on: 0800 044 334 or text 4334. (available 24/7)
• Male Survivors Aotearoa offers a range of confidential support at centres across New Zealand – find your closest one here.
• Mosaic – Tiaki Tangata: 0800 94 22 94 (available 11am – 8pm)
• If you have been abused, remember it’s not your fault.
• Wellington HELP has a 24/7 helpline for people who need to speak to someone immediately. You can call 04 801 6655 and push 0 at the menu.

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