National | Manurewa Marae

Concerns are still high on crime rates

South Auckland leaders say crime prevention and community safety will be priorities over the Christmas break. Their stand is in response to a hui to counter youth offending, called by the Manukau Urban Māori Authority (MUMA) and attended by marae, Māori wardens, Pacific leaders and the Indian business community.

Community Patrols New Zealand Chairman Chris Lawton said the holiday period is a time of high crime with a lot of retail theft and social problems.

"Bringing people together at the right time is critical to community safety and security. And that's getting a presence out there sometimes. You can't reach that without different groups from different cultures showing leadership for their communities."

Retail crime costs New Zealand retailers $1 billion each year and has a significant personal impact on those working in the industry.

This year has seen a spike in ram raid-style burglaries with more than 200 incidents affecting small retailers and larger chains. Some offenders included 10 to 14-year-olds.

Deputy Commissioner Wally Haumaha, says there are many reasons for these types of youth offences.

"The fact they're not at school. The fact that there are high rates of truancy. The fact of the social city settings in some of their households.

Conversations or kōrero I've had with Māori Wardens around taking some of these people home... no kai in the cupboard... lots of violence... the impact of drugs. All of those factors can be taken into account."

Haumaha says police are working with many South Auckland community leaders to keep people safe.

“We've had meetings with Papakura marae, with different members from Manurewa and Ngā Whare Wātea to acknowledge that this is a significant problem. A lot of our Māori youth are responsible for committing a lot of the ram raids. And we've also brought together the Indian business and retail sectors to show how we can work to keep them safe.”