Native Affairs - Protecting dairy owners

By Wepiha Te Kanawa

Dairy owners in South Auckland want Māori Wardens to help protect them.

Dairy and small business owners have reached crisis point following the rise in robberies.

Māori Warden, Thomas Henry says they have recently been bombarded with call outs.

“A lot of the shop owners want us to stay there all day with them because they feel safe. I don't know if they feel safe because we are Māori but they feel safe and want us to stay all day just to give that reassurance.”

One dairy owner we spoke to didn’t want to be identified in case his store was targeted again. He says people’s lives are in danger.

“It is a bit of a scary situation at the moment because we work long hours, we are tired. It’s fine if they want to take the stock that's fine, nobody is stopping them but as soon as they come into the shop and they are trying to hit people, hurt the people that is totally wrong.” 

In April, the Police launched ‘Operation Dukan’ across Auckland to provide small businesses with prevention advice and support.

Over 90 people have been arrested in relation to robberies,  90% are Māori and Pacific youth.

Henry says dairy owners are forced to protect themselves any way they can.  “We’ve seen them with bats, we’ve seen them with steel bars and that's protection realistically at the end of the day it's protection.”

Area Commander of Counties Manukau South, Inspector Dave Glossop says these crimes are motivated by money, cigarettes and alcohol.

“We are concerned by the age of these groups.  It's not unusual to see a 13 or 14-year-old kid involved in the sort of crimes."

Inspector Glossop admits the police can’t arrest their way out of this issue, but it needs to be addressed at home with families.

“This is where we talked about the social investment type stuff, that we can identify those issues within families sooner. All the government agencies need to work together on that but the community have a place in that solution as well.”

With the rise in aggravated robberies, Māori wardens say they're needed on the streets to protect dairy owners.