Buskers’ efforts not music to all ears

It's in the bag .. Australian tourists Jody and Michael Thorne, of Sydney, take a selfie with bagpiper Wren Monks, of St Leonards, outside the Dunedin Railway Station last year. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE

Dunedin buskers are hitting a bum note with some listeners.

An Official Information Act request to the Dunedin City Council reveals noise complaints about buskers has dropped slightly in the city.

On average, about nine complaints about buskers were made annually between 2015 and 2019.

Last year, seven complaints were made.

On a day a cruise ship was in Dunedin, The Star asked a group of tourists for their view on buskers.

Australian tourist Jody Thorne said she enjoyed listening to bagpiper Wren Monks busking outside the Dunedin Railway Station.

“It’s the sound of your history tourists – it’s good for tourists.”

Mr Monks said he tried to play his bagpipes outside the station whenever a cruise ship was in town.

He had never received a complaint but had heard of other bagpipers who had.

“I have heard of pipers playing outside banks and a bank manager coming out all grumpy.”

South Dunedin Business Association president Craig Waterhouse said the association had held the annual South Dunedin Busking Festival in King Edward St for the past three years and no performer had received a noise complaint.

“Some of them have been considerably loud 10-year-old on a set of drums and he was seriously loud. We welcome buskers in South Dunedin flavour of the community.”

Dunedin City Council compliance services manager Ros MacGill said buskers must have a permit to perform in the city.

Anecdotally, the number of permits issued had remained steady.

To avoid buskers competing for spots in the Octagon when cruise ships were visiting, the council introduced a booking system.

“Buskers are not competing for space in the Octagon like they used to and people are more tolerant when they’ve got one busking noise .. It’s definitely reduced the number of complaints that we get.”

The council received some complaints about buskers in the Albion Lane area but generally buskers were not causing “too many problems at all”.

Of the more than 3500 noise complaints made up to November 26 last year, 83% were for noise coming from stereos, radios and televisions.