Looking after Porirua
Persistence has paid off for new Porirua neighbourhood watch co-ordinator Matthew Samuela.
After being told no funding existed for the job police had offered him last August, Mr Samuela took the matter to local politicians, who brought the matter to Police Minster Judith Collins, and she approved funding for the role.
Mr Samuela was officially sworn in to the job on July 12 at a powhiri attended by about 20 Cannons Creek community representatives.
His role is to encourage Cannons Creek residents to report crime and look out for their neighbours.
‘‘Having lived in Porirua for most of my life I want to see our children, elders and people from all walks of life, to feel safe, happy and proud of our city of Porirua,’’ he says.
When crimes such as burglaries and graffiti happen, most of the time neighbours have seen the offender but did not call police.
‘‘In most cases neighbours saw culprits doing something suspicious but didn’t know what to do.’’
As a local, Mr Samuela is well placed to get among the community, spread the neighbourhood support message, and support victims of crime.
However well he is suited to the role, Mr Samuela considers himself lucky to have won it.
After showing promise in many fields, studying media and Pacific studies, law, journalism and business at various universities, Mr Samuela developed health problems and spent six years on the sickness benefit.
It was only when he enrolled in a Work and Income work transition programme that his luck turned around.
His work transition mentor Richard Witherford-Smith approached local police about creating a job for Mr Samuela.
Senior constable Rob Gregory, Porirua’s community engagement officer, jumped at the idea of supplementing Neighbourhood Watch volunteers with a fulltime support person.
‘‘We’re always going to work with volunteers but we needed that extra input, and a paid position was the best way to do that,’’ he says.
He knew immediately Mr Samuela was right for a role. ‘‘Within five minutes I realised this was the guy,’’ he says.
‘‘Matt is a person people can go to.’’
Partnership: After months of delay and uncertainty, Senior constable Rob Gregory welcomed Cannons Creek local Matthew Samuela to the team on July 12.