‘We are waging a war’ – Drugs, robberies plague township

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MURUPARA residents say drug use – particularly methamphetamine and synthetic cannabis – is “rife” in their town and fuelling violent crime, following two robberies in as many weeks.

A woman, who asked not to be named, said drug abuse was everywhere in Murupara, including among the town’s youngsters.

She said teenagers had been found trying to sell in schools and substance abuse was fuelling a rise in violent offending in Murupara.

Today a 28-year-old man and a 19-year-old woman will appear in the Rotorua District Court after attempting to rob the bakery on Sunday morning.

At approximately 8am, the pair threatened staff with a hammer and cash was taken. Police say a staff member was assaulted but no injuries were sustained and the victims were receiving support

The incident follows another robbery, which involved two 15 year olds and a 14 year old who used pistols and a screwdriver to rob the Murupara Store two weeks ago.

Staff, who asked not to be named, said they had relocated to Murupara in June because they had been employed to run the store, but the robbery had scared them and left them wondering about their future.

Te Kura Kaupapa Motuhake o Tawhiuau principal Pem Bird said, like many of New Zealand communities, Murupara had a problem with drug abuse.

He said Murupara was considered a low socio-economic area with a large Maori population, but it was time the community stood up.

So Mr Bird, who is also a Murupara kaumatua, said he was implementing an “aukati” on drug sellers bringing “their poisonous crap” into the Ngati Manawa tribal lands, including Murupara.

An aukati is a concept based on tikanga Maori (protocols) prohibiting an action and Mr Bird said it was about the community supporting police and saying enough was enough.

“We don’t want you coming across our rohe (tribal area) and bringing your stuff, your equipment, your body, your chemicals, your plants and we are saying don’t step across this rohe. We do not want to be infected by that crap.”

Mr Bird said he had written a strategy for the Te Runanga o Ngati Manawa, which outlined their role as kaitiaki (guardians) of the Murupara area and their responsibility to help their people with issues such as drug abuse.

He said the strategy included a system that would allow Maori to work with police and other Government departments to help address issues around drug abuse.

“We are waging a war against drugs and therefore we must think of it like it is war. Iwi and Maori need to look at the problem in front of them and start doing something.

Eastbay Reap family support co-ordinator Rebecca Hyland agreed drug and alcohol abuse was rampant in Murupara and there was a need for more resources to help deal with the issues.

She said Murpara no longer had a counsellor and although the community was trying to rally, it needed specialised skills to help address the issues.

“Having more specialised people here would really help. We have got a big drug and alcohol problem and we are doing our best, but we do not really know how to deal with it.”

Pem Bird
Te Kura Kaupapa Motuhake o Tawhiuau principal











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