School sprinklers condemned as cruel and hostile
An Auckland high school has come under fire for using sprinklers to discourage homeless people from taking shelter.
ACG Senior College had sprinklers fitted into its entrance on Rutland St, Auckland central, which spray the area from 8pm to 6am every evening.
Rough sleeper Junior Wihnpi said he noticed the sprinklers a few weeks ago.
He said he was disappointed because there weren’t many deep doorways in the central city to sleep in.
‘‘When it rains it’s pretty sheltered on that side, but because of the sprinkler going off we can’t really do anything,’’ Wihnpi said.
Representatives from the school did not want to comment.
However, in a statement to Newshub, school principal Tracey Dykstra said the system was installed more than five years ago to ensure its property stayed clean and inviting for students and the public.
An estimated 177 people sleep rough in Auckland’s CBD - up from 68 in 2013.
Wihnpi said the sprinklers were having an effect on the marginalised members of society.
‘‘Usually right up along the whole wall there was about 10 or 12 of us.’’
Methodist Mission and Splice community group leader John MacDonald noticed the sprinklers last week. He described it as a fire hydrant in the ceiling.
‘‘It’s to keep them from sleeping on the porch,’’ MacDonald said.
‘‘I don’t think closed doors and sprinklers is socially responsible.’’
Auckland City Mission chief executive Chris Farrelly said with winter approaching sprinklers weren’t the solution.
‘‘I think rough sleeping is devastating enough without being added to with more cruel and hos- tile actions,’’ Farrelly said.
‘‘Until we can have houses for all the homeless we can’t condone such actions.’’
Lifewise chief executive Moira Lawler said it was a missed opportunity by the school and she encouraged it to be more creative.
MacDonald and Lawler both said Auckland’s Central City Library had similar problems but handled the issue better, engaging with rough sleepers and creating film and books clubs to include them.
‘‘I don't think closed doors and sprinklers is socially responsible.’’
Junior Wihnpi said the doorway used to be a good spot to get out of the elements at night.