You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

News Top Stories

'When you're from Kaikohe people don't expect much'

Radio New Zealand logo Radio New Zealand 20/03/2017
CCTV footage from the Mobil station in Kaikohe. © Provided by Radio New Zealand Limited CCTV footage from the Mobil station in Kaikohe.

The head girl of a Kaikohe college says a local approach is needed to tackle destructive youth behaviour in her home town.

On Friday night, half a dozen children walked into a liquor store and stole boxes of beer. Later, a group of youngsters were captured on CCTV, hurling rocks and trying to kick in the glass doors of the Mobil service station.

Northland College head girl Aroha Lawrence said she knew some of the young people involved at the weekend.

Some came from good homes while others came from broken homes, but they were united in that they had all grown up in Kaikohe and had to deal any stigma that came with that.

"When you're from Kaikohe people don't expect much of you, so you don't have really big expectations for yourself," Miss Lawrence said.

"People just think you're another Māori statistic that's just going to go on the dole."

It did not help that there was not much to do in the town, she said.

"A lot of the kids here, they just go hang out at The Mill, which is our local gym. Or just do what those young boys were doing - going around vandalising properties and robbing shops and robbing homes. Because, I don't know, I guess they think that's fun because there's nothing really else to do in Kaikohe."

Something needed to change but a locally-led approach was best, she said.

However, the same things happened in other towns and cities too and it was important to remember there were a lot of good young people in Kaikohe too, Miss Lawrence said.

"There's a lot of us that are trying to, you know, make something better for ourselves or make something better for Kaikohe. They shouldn't judge us by a few rotten eggs."

Far North district mayor John Carter said weekend's events were indicative of successive government failures that had bred a "sub-culture" of people.

Government policies over four decades - including the years he had been an MP - had failed society, especially when it came to welfare, he said.

"We have bred a sub-culture of people who now don't live [in] and know our society, they live outside it. What you saw over the weekend was a glimpse of what it's going to be as we move forward if we don't address this issue."

Mr Carter and his mayoral counterparts in Gisborne and Rotorua, together with the McGuiness Institute think-tank, were putting together a paper for Prime Minister Bill English, outlining the need for councils to spearhead change.

"We need to be able to be in a position to make the decisions - we're at breaking point actually," Mr Carter said.

"And if people think we've got a housing crisis you wait until this stuff starts breaking out over the next five or 10 years."

The document should be ready in the coming weeks, he said.

Aroha Lawrence said she thought Mr Carter's idea for locally-driven change was a "really good one".

She said if they were the ones dealing with the problem then they should be the ones fixing it.

Former Otorohanga mayor Dale Williams got youth unemployment in that town to zero.

Now a Porirua city councillor, he was working with Partners Porirua, which developed youth for the workforce.

Mr Williams said there needed to be more positive role models in Kaikohe for young people to look up to, especially those who were involved in the crime over the weekend.

Young people's attitudes were generally more negative when they did not think they had any options, he said.

"I would imagine that these are young people born and bred in Kaikohe, or certainly in Northland, and they've got strong connections to their land and to their families," he said.

"And they want to have opportunities. They want to be able to stay in their community, earn money, and raise their families."


More From Radio New Zealand

Radio New Zealand
Radio New Zealand
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon