Surfers and boaties abused at beach
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.