© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

Parklands troublemakers prompt community meeting

Luka Forman
Parklands 3
Parklands Reserve  Luka Forman

School hires security to deal with intimidating group while business owner and local residents call for a return of community policing.

Local business owner Richard King described a situation where his staff were assaulted after leaving work. 

As his staff were crossing the road, a car sped around the corner and tried to hit them. The staff members then hid behind their own car and the offenders attacked it with a machete. 

"This is a frightening experience, I consider it criminal activity," said King.

The police were called to the scene, but they sent the attackers on their way without making any arrests or filing an incident report, King said. 

"Statistically, nothing happened, there was no event."

King wants community policing brought back to Parklands.

He said community officers in the past had done a great job. 

"It's no coincidence that these things have escalated at the same time that our local police have been transferred into the MIQ facilities."

Police said in a statement that the Parklands area was not statistically unsafe to live in. 

It said that the volume of crime was what would be expected in any urban suburb.

Police were not present at a community meeting about the issue.

Waitai/Coastal-Burwood community board member, Bebe Frayle, was disappointed.

"That was pretty poor on their part because they know what that means to the community."

Grant Donell is a longtime resident of the Parklands area. He said the situation was "ridiculous". 

"My daughter; I want her to walk around and be safe."

Donell organised the community meeting, which 150 people attended. He also started a petition about the issue, which has been signed by more than 2500 people.

He said the community's engagement was a good sign.

"We're sticking together as a community, [we're] prepared to do something about it," Donnell said.

Donnell would like the city council invest more into local projects to give young people in the area a positive outlet. 

He said that the eastern side of Christchurch had been neglected by the council since the earthquakes in 2011. 

"It's a tale of two cities," Donnell said.

Queenspark School principal Ross Willocks said at the meeting that his school had issues with the troublemakers.

"This small group have come back and tried to intimidate and frighten and scaremonger kids and staff."

He said that the school had to spend money on security to help deal with the problem.

The school had tried to get funding for those costs from the Ministry of Education without success. 

Members of the community discussed possible solutions for the problem at the meeting, including a youth drop-in centre where kids could spend time in a positive environment.

A follow-up meeting will be held on Thursday.