School sprin­klers con­demned as cruel and hos­tile

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - JAMES PASLEY

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.’’

JAMES PASLEY/FAIR­FAX NZ

Ju­nior Wi­h­npi said the door­way used to be a good spot to get out of the el­e­ments at night.

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