Surfers and boat­ies abused at beach

Te Awamutu Courier - - News - BY NIKKI PRE­STON

Surfers and boat­ies say they have been shot at, abused or had prop­erty van­dalised at a re­mote Waikato beach, and there are fears it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore some­one is killed.

Last week a Te Awa­mutu fa­ther, son and friend were shot at while surf­ing at Al­ba­tross Point off the Taha¯ roa Coast.

Other boat­ies and surfers have told NZME they had been sub­jected to sim­i­lar at­tacks at the lo­ca­tion, which is only ac­ces­si­ble by boat or pri­vate land.

The lat­est in­ci­dent had been con­demned by lo­cal po­lice who warned “we are not in a war zone”.

Last Thurs­day the Te Awa­mutu trio took jet­skis from Ka¯whia Har­bour about 11.45am and rode 20 min­utes south to Al­ba­tross Point.

They were surf­ing the break when gun­shots stopped them in their tracks.

The first two shots sounded fur­ther away, but the third, fired from bush­land over­look­ing the wa­ter, landed me­tres away from where one of the group, a teenager, was surf­ing.

Sergeant Andy Con­nors of Otoro­hanga ¯ po­lice said the surfers fled the area and re­turned to the Ka¯whia boat ramp un­in­jured but shaken.

Ka¯whia’s sole po­lice of­fi­cer, who pa­trols Taha¯roa, hap­pened to be at the ramp and took their state­ments.

“They were de­cid­edly ner­vous as you would be,” said Andy.

Wait­omo mayor Brian Hanna said the in­ci­dent was “quite alarm­ing” and could not be tol­er­ated.

While Al­ba­tross Point was in Wait­omo Dis­trict, it was most ac­ces­si­ble by boat from Ka¯ whia Har­bour.

“It doesn’t mat­ter if it’s by in­vi­ta­tion only or what­ever, no one con­dones the use of firearms.

“Ob­vi­ously they want to pro­tect their unique area, but you can’t take the law into your own hands.”

An­other Waikato fish­er­man, who asked not to be named, had a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence ear­lier this year.

The man said he was sit­ting in his boat look­ing out for a friend who was free div­ing when some­one started fir­ing at them.

More shots were aimed at them as the friend hauled him­self into the boat.

They sped off back to Ka¯ whia and re­ported the in­ci­dent to po­lice.

“They [lo­cals] think they own the sea,” the fish­er­man said.

“There’s been heaps of boats shot at out there. It’s been go­ing on for 10 years . . . I know guys that have [stopped] on the beach there, or fished off the beach or even gone to land a boat there to go and look for some pa¯ua and they will ac­tu­ally get run off the beach.”

The man’s wife said the sit­u­a­tion seemed to be get­ting worse and she feared some­one could even­tu­ally be killed.

“There could be an out­right mur­der,” she said.

An­other long-time surfer said surfers feared for their prop­erty and well­be­ing so would not go near Al­ba­tross Point, de­spite it be­ing a good, shel­tered surf break.

The 60 year old said surf­ing the break was “in­vite only” and the lo­cals did not want oth­ers surf­ing in their patch and crowd­ing the area.

He de­scribed it as “ex­treme lo­cal­ism”.

“I was out at Raglan in March and I was talk­ing to a cou­ple of guys there and they said they had an in­vite, but ba­si­cally if I tried to pad­dle out there and I wasn’t wel­come they would . . . punch you out — ab­so­lutely.”

Over the years he had heard of peo­ple hav­ing their car and trailer tyres slashed, wind­screen wipers wrenched off, car win­dows smashed and be­ing in­tim­i­dated, yelled at and ha­rassed.

Andy said th­ese sort of in­ci­dents should not be tol­er­ated and en­cour­aged the public to come for­ward.

“The shot for this young boy has ended up only me­tres away from him and there’s a mas­sive risk for this kind of of­fend­ing,” he said.

“It’s just in­tol­er­a­ble. We are not in a war zone.”

Andy said he was aware there had been sim­i­lar re­ports where oth­ers had been shot at, but did not have de­tails. Po­lice were in­ves­ti­gat­ing Thurs­day’s shoot­ing and po­lice and the Wait­omo iwi li­ai­son of­fi­cer would meet with lo­cals this week.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.