Regional | Crime

Half-built Te Arawa papakāinga ram raided

A Te Arawa hapū is furious that a papakāinga project was hit by ram raiders this week.

Thirteen of the 15 new homes built for low-income families from Ngāti Uenukukōpako were damaged and a large quantity of equipment stolen.

“It’s tragic because there are hundreds of our whānau including many who are living in motels and who live in emergency housing right now who need these houses," whānau housing advocate Renee Kiriona (Ngāti Uenukukōpako) said.

Ram raids hit papakāinga in Rotorua.

On Monday, November 28, between 9:30pm and 11:30pm, the Ngāti Uenukukōpako Trust offices on the outskirts of Rotorua were broken into via a window. Laptops containing vital trust information and planning were stolen, including bird monitoring equipment for important taiao work on Mokoia Island, a truck to meet programme responsibilities, and a 10-seater boat used for school programmes and lake work.

Ngāti Uenukukōpako Iwi Trust chairman Nireaha Pirika arrived to work the following day and realised his laptop, along with every other laptop and other important equipment from the office had been taken, his second set of master keys taken gone along with the trust's truck and boat.

“And that’s not all, After that initial shock, I went outside and the houses we are building for our papakāinga were also broken into. Add the dishwasher and the stove that was also taken out of the houses and other stuff from the office, and you’re reaching $100,000 worth”, Pirika said.

Papakāinga lead builder Jacob Nepia was also disappointed with what had happened. “When I got to work that morning, I noticed some ovens sitting out on the decks, shower units that haven’t been installed all scattered over the ground, broken windows, and damage to the buildings."

A police statement said they were alerted at 7am on November 28 to a report of the theft, overnight, of a vehicle, trailer, and boat and several break-ins at a series of properties on Te Ngae Rd, Rotorua. "Several properties have been broken into with minor damage to locks. No indication of vandalism."

"The vehicle, trailer, and boat were located at a rural Rotorua address and have now been recovered, undamaged. A man was arrested at a Rotorua address yesterday. A 29 year-old-man was due to appear in the Rotorua District Court today on charges related to the theft of a vehicle, trailer and boat from a Rotorua address overnight on Monday.”

Fifteen families were to receive their set of keys to enter their new homes in January 2023 but there now could be a two to three-month delay.

Building crew manager Donna Nepia said they had just got through the challenges of Covid-19's interruptions of the build and to now this. “We worked so hard from March to get this all done to get our iwi in here and our people housed and homed that it was just a great disappointment."

There have been numerous ram raids in Auckland and Waikato in recent months, with many youths appearing in court.

But there was sadness that an iwi initiative was a target.  Ngāti Uenukukōpako now has 24/7 security guards monitoring the location and all locks have been changed. It hopes no other iwi has to go through this and are pleading with iwi to stay vigilant.