Often we read in the media about a violent crime being committed in heartland New Zealand where such events are unheard of or very rare.
The usual comment from a local resident being “that sort of stuff doesn’t happen here, we all know each other”. That was the case when a young woman was found close to death in the Dome Valley last year. She had been tied up, severely beaten and dumped on a remote country road.
She was not known to local Police and her identity was only confirmed after a picture of her tattoo was given national media exposure.
Following excellent investigative work by detectives from the Rodney CIB, the offenders were identified, charged and recently convicted in the Auckland High Court. They were (rightly) sentenced to lengthy periods of imprisonment.
The trial received significant media exposure because of the depravity involved. How someone could possibly treat another human being in such a callous and brutal way is foreign to most of us. Some of you may have taken some solace in the thought that the location, where the victim was found, was random and those responsible were not connected with this community. But you would be wrong.
One of the offenders was a mother whose daughter once lived in our community before she died suddenly about a year before the event in the Dome Valley. She was 17-years-old.
When the mother was arrested for the attempted murder in the Dome Valley case, she was visiting the grave of her daughter.
That’s the thing about meth – it has the ability to turn people ugly and it has no respect for location or gender or race or age.
The problem may not be as big here as in other parts of the country, but let’s not wait until it is before we own it and do something about it.
Recently, I met with Springboard to discuss the effect of meth on our community and more importantly, what we could do to lessen it. Springboard, a locally-based community group, knows all about the effects of P because they work, on a daily basis, with the kids and families who are affected by it.
We recognise that we are not likely to rid our town of meth and merely relying on the police to catch and prosecute all those who peddle this pernicious drug isn’t having a significant impact on the demand for it. Not all of our kids are discouraged from trying it.
Out of our discussion came a commitment to do what we can to educate, encourage and empower our kids to say no to P. Rather than pretend they won’t be exposed to it, or hope they won’t try it, we accept they probably will be offered it and when (not if) that happens, they will choose to tell the dealer to bugger off.
There is educational material available on the internet regarding meth and it is reasonably compelling, but it is American and doesn’t relate to NZ, let alone Warkworth. As one ex-meth dealer commented after we had watched “Not even once” on YouTube, “That’s not bad but we don’t drive left hand cars and there’s no Native Americans in Warkworth!”
Mahurangi College also recognises that the message isn’t getting through to all students. They agree that more meth awareness education would be beneficial, especially if it was delivered by credible presenters such as ex-meth dealers and users, and accompanied by a DVD featuring local people.
Similarly, Ngatï Manuhiri acknowledges that meth is a problem for our iwi and we need to work together to reduce the demand for it.
We have committed to producing that DVD and envisage that it will be regularly shown at local schools and community groups. It will feature local employers explaining why they won’t employ anyone who tests positive to meth and local users who have had their children taken from them and local (ex) dealers who acknowledge the lives they have ruined.
Our aim is to enable our kids and grandkids to have the confidence to say no to meth, just as they have the confidence to insist on wearing a seatbelt.
Fundraising has begun for this initiative and seven local parents and employers have already pledged money toward it, but we would encourage anyone who wants to contribute to contact Springboard phone 425 4623 or email@example.com about making a donation, or me at the Warkworth Police Station 425 8109 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.
This is a joint initiative involving the Warkworth Police, Springboard, Mahurangi College and Ngatï Manuhiri to drive down the demand for meth in our community.
By SERGEANT BEDE HAUGHEY
O/C Warkworth police