27 Aug 2018

Maraenui - The Napier suburb drowning in synthetics

From Checkpoint, 5:44 pm on 27 August 2018

Police in Napier say they are doing all they can to stop sellers of synthetic cannabis in the suburb of Maraenui, but it's difficult to shut them down completely.

Children as young as 11 are getting hooked on the drug in what is being described as an epidemic in the neighbourhood.

Read RNZ's full investigation here: Maraenui: The suburb swallowed by synthetics

Maraenui community constable Hoki Ward said there was hardly anyone unaffected by synthetics there.

"Around here, everyone's using it, it's like drinking or cigarettes, so you're looking at all sorts of age groups as well right up to the koros the nannys, whoever is supposed to be the ones who are the wise ones looking after your family unit, to your parents, to your young parents, to the kids."

Mr Ward said most of his time was spent on education and helping addicts and their families get the help they need.

Police said all synthetics in Hawke's Bay were being made and sold in Maraenui.

Hawke's Bay CIB head Detective Senior Sergeant Brent Greville said the police were doing what they could to stop sellers, but they could not do it alone.

"We're never going to be able to arrest our way out of the situation for the community's sake, there's a number of options that we can take and one of them's just enforcement."

Mr Greville said without the customer base the synthetics problem would not exist.

Demand for synthetics needed to be addressed, and the community needed to stand up to those who sold it, he said.

The Coroner is investigating at least three deaths in Maraenui which have been linked to synthetics, including the death of a 55-year-old man two weeks ago.

Three men charged with possession and supply of synthetic material following a raid on four properties a few days before his death will appear in the Napier District Court this week.

Click to read the full report 'Maraenui: The suburb swallowed by synthetics'.