Far North community meeting tells officials to go harder on young offenders

By Muriwai Hei

Kaitāia dairy owners and their supporters have told Te Tai Tokerau MP and Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis they want stronger laws to punish youth involved in aggravated robberies.

They were at a public meeting in the Mangonui Hall, which also included local councillors including Hilda Halkyard-Harawira.

Halkyard-Harawira said the hall was filled with many people within the community so they could raise their concerns about the youth crime in the area.

“The house was full of the community. They were concerned about the children driving around the park next to the ocean. The community was concerned an accident might happen, and they or someone else might get hurt.

"So we called a meeting and fortunately, that community has a lot of resources and found solutions such as CCTV. Police have said to take photos of the vehicle's registration. A car has been seized in the last 28 days. So we laughed because that's a positive for some.

"They've started a community patrol as in Kerikeri and Kaitāia to protect their town at night."

There have been 129 ram raids since May this year, and Harawira says there are many reasons why.

“For me, I think because of Covid some didn't return to school. Some say a solution is alternative schools such as NorthTec and Wānanga Māori for those who've left school to upskill. Today I went to the hub in Kaikohe and there's a building being built for Te Pūkenga. There's trades training there. We may lose mātauranga Māori but this could be a pathway for those who're bored at home."