Neighbourhood Support groups in Leander and Carysfort streets are celebrating the recent installation of a CCTV camera at Horoipia Reserve.
It’s hoped the installation of the cameras will end months of having to clean up the mess left behind by a group of youth who have been using the park and playground to sleep.
Local resident and Carysfort Street Neighbourhood Support facilitator Jo Shannon says the park, which was opened in November 2019, has given the neighbouring streets a place to connect.
“As a community, we were delighted to have a playground and green space created for our children, families and community,” says Jo.
“Unfortunately, there are always a few individuals who push the boundaries of reasonable behaviour.”
The park became a focal point for 10 to 15 youths who started sleeping there on weekends, leaving behind rubbish, belongings, duvets and blankets, as well as bags of human faeces.
There was also damage to fences, cars and pathways and incidents of intimidating and disruptive behaviour making it feel unsafe for neighbouring families and children to use the park.
Jo approached Tauranga City Council with the support of Mount Maunganui Community Constable Mefi Taele to request CCTV be installed and a liquor ban put in place.
Council Regulation Monitoring team leader Stuart Goodman responded on October 30, saying police had not requested a liquor ban at the reserve and that there was no budget available for additional CCTV in the area.
Jo then approached local Tauranga City Council ward councillors, Dawn Kiddie and Steve Morris, and called a street meeting on November 24.
On the day of the meeting, the group learned that the decision had been made to install CCTV cameras before Christmas.
Local residents celebrating the newly installed CTV camera at Horoipia Reserve at Omanu.
"It just shows what can be done when a group of neighbours get together,” says Neighbourhood Support Omanu Area Coordinator Linda Thompson.
“They know they had things that were concerning their families and they got together and made something happen in a couple of weeks, lobbying the Council. The camera is going to make this park safer for everybody.
“All these people are members of Neighbourhood Support and they can show what can be done with people getting together as families.”
Leander Street Neighbourhood Support coordinator Jessie Grimmer says there are 50 families in their street’s neighbourhood support group.
“I want to do a big shout out to Jo Shannon and Dawn Kiddie. Jo organised getting the camera installed. Her perseverance in dealing with Council [shows] that if you keep trying eventually you will get some results.
“Dawn helped make it happen, following through with Council and getting some action when we needed it.
“We had a driveway meeting with Dawn and Mefi Taele our Community Constable about three weeks ago. Jo went through everything she’d been doing.
“She’d already been contacting the Council and they’d agreed to put a camera in. Dawn followed up to try and get a date for us and then the next thing we know there’s a guy installing it.”
Jessie says that community support through Neighbourhood Support was an important aspect.
“I think there needs to be a Neighbourhood Support group in every street.”
Mount Maunganui College technology and music teacher Tia Beaufort is a local resident and father of two children, aged nine and six, who play at the park.
“It was a bit concerning to see a lot of damage,” says Tia.
“Some of the teenagers were probably living here temporarily so it was a bit sad to see.”
Tia says the situation with behaviour at the park began soon after the COVID lockdown lifted.
“I think it’s something to do with the increasing house prices in the area and the rents going up,” says Tia.
“It’s good to see we’ve got some action from the Council. I’m just hoping that they can think about where the problem’s coming from and try sort them out as well.
“We have an awesome network of neighbours willing to look out for each other.”
Neil Osbaldiston and his wife have lived in the street for 35 years.
“Council really hasn’t paid much attention to this area for a very long time,” says Neil.
“They tried to increase the density of housing around here without any extra services and I think they’ve given us this [Horoipia Reserve playground] as a bit of a token.
“It’s nice, it’s being well-used by the kids and its great. The demographics of the neighbourhood have changed totally from being a high-turnover rental population to being more family-orientated.
“It’s changed heaps in the last five years since they chucked away the Smart Growth planning. Then the families could rebuy back in here knowing they weren’t going to have an apartment beside them.
“Some people owned five houses in this area, rented them out, didn’t care or have any vested interest in the house. As soon as families buy, then others buy and then a sense of community comes again.
“We’ve been here for 35 years and it was great, then it deteriorated because people were buying in to develop up, but then it was sold to families again and the community comes back again,” says Neil.
“We have made a collected effort to support our Neighbourhood Support organisation and to speak up when we felt not enough was being done to assist local police and to keep our community safe,” says Jo.
The group is making plans for a celebration at the park within the next week.
“There are several Neighbourhood Support street groups involved in this area. We still need a couple more street co-ordinators though,” says Linda.
To form a Neighbourhood Support group or become a street coordinator, go to www.wbopns.org.nz
Neighbourhood Support Omanu Area Coordinator Linda Thompson.