WELLINGTON (AFP) – Car drivers armed with a playlist of Celine Dion songs have been plaguing residents of a small New Zealand city for months on end with loud, late-night “siren battles”.
The beloved Canadian singer’s melodies lose their charm when blared at high volume as late as 2am, say the sleepless residents of Porirua, north of Wellington and home to 60,000 people.
“It’s a headache,” Porirua Mayor Anita Baker told AFP yesterday. Siren battles have erupted in parts of New Zealand for at least seven years.
Local media have reported on contestants using large siren-type speakers on cars and even bicycles to drown each other out with their powerful systems. They “love Celine Dion”, the mayor said. “They like anyone with a high pitch and great tone in their voice,” she said.
In Porirua, people have had enough of hearing the power ballads.
The contests start as early as 7pm and can go on until as late as 2am, the mayor said. “It’s really loud music. They only play a quarter of the song, so it’s like having a turntable and it comes screeching out.”
Competing cars park with their engines running, blasting out music before moving to avoid police, Baker said. “It’s happening down in our city centre, which is like a basin, so the noise just goes out like a drum to all the suburbs,” she said. “People are just not getting any sleep, because it’s all hours.”
Nearly 300 disgruntled residents have so far signed a petition on the website change.org demanding Porirua City Council put a stop to it.
“There is a petition coming my way, but I have already had lots of emails and complaints through,” Baker said.
The mayor said she would meet with police to find a resolution. “We don’t want people leaving the city because of the noise. That’s unacceptable,” she said.