In a peculiar and vexing trend in Porirua, New Zealand, residents have been subjected to relentless plays of Celine Dion songs during the night. These serenades are part of what locals call “siren battles,” in which rival groups engage in competitions to amplify music through vehicle sirens as loudly and clearly as possible.
The “siren battles” have been a known phenomenon in various parts of New Zealand for approximately seven years, with participants modifying their vehicles, including cars and bicycles, to include multiple sirens, often numbering between seven and ten. The aim is to create a sound system that can overpower their rivals’ musical choices.
These competitions can last for hours and involve extensive preparation. Participants often source additional sirens online and incorporate extra speakers and amplifiers into their vehicles. The contests have been known to stretch late into the night, leading to disruptions in the community.
Local media has reported on the use of large siren-like speakers on vehicles and bicycles to compete with each other using their powerful sound systems. Celine Dion’s music, known for its distinctive high pitch and vocal tone, has emerged as a popular choice among participants in these siren battles.
The Mayor of Porirua, Anita Baker, expressed her frustration, describing the ongoing siren battles as a “headache” for the local community. These contests typically begin in the early evening and continue until the early hours of the morning. Participants frequently reposition their vehicles to evade law enforcement.
The disturbances have led to around 300 residents signing a petition on Change.org, urging the Porirua City Council to address the issue. The petitioners cited their grievances about the disruptions to their peace and quiet, particularly the abrupt and intermittent interruptions caused by the siren battles.
Mayor Baker acknowledged the concerns of residents and stated that she was “sick to death” of these competitions. She emphasized the necessity for participants to return to locations where their activities would not disturb the entire community.
A subculture has developed among Pacific Islander communities in New Zealand based on who can blast music — often Celine Dion songs — the loudest. The “siren clubs” say the battles are expressions of community. But some residents say they’re too disruptive.https://t.co/Y5ZERITAg8
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 27, 2023
Residents of Porirua, New Zealand, are pleading for someone to stop “siren battles” by cars playing Céline Dion & other high-treble music over emergency loudspeaker rigs https://t.co/J0jnvC3zb0 pic.twitter.com/EFfWuZ0xVT
— Alec Luhn (@AlecLuhn) October 24, 2023