18 May 2021

Alleged hammer attack at Tauranga children's netball game

From Checkpoint, 6:16 pm on 18 May 2021

An alleged hammer attack on the sidelines of a children's netball game has one sports centre thinking about extra security.

Police are investigating after the incident at the Tauranga Netball Centre on Saturday afternoon when two men got into a fight. Bystanders intervened to calm the situation.

Several teams of primary and intermediate aged children were playing at the time.

"It was an isolated incident that happened between two individuals that knew each other, and it pretty much turned violent," Tauranga Netball Centre manager Tracy Walters told Checkpoint.

"One individual did have a hammer and I'm unsure if the other individual had a weapon or not. 

"I believe the guy that got hit by the hammer was hurt, but he didn't need immediate medical attention, so we just encouraged them to go their own way and stop whatever was happening. 

"There were a lot of fathers there that came to the aid of staff members… they stood around for a while to make sure the two individuals didn't come back together," she said.

"I've worked here for the last four years and I've never seen anything like that. Let's put it this way, it happened fast but unfortunately the children that were in the immediate area did see something you wouldn't really want them to see.

"The police were contacted shortly after the incident happened by quite a number of people around the courts on that day. The police attended the Tauranga Netball courts and interviewed a number of people regarding the incident.

"That is currently under investigation. What we're doing is working with the police and awaiting their report, and the identification of these individuals so that we can then take steps to issue a trespass notice, so they're no longer welcome down at the courts," Walters said.

She said they were also talking to the police about victim support.

"That's going to be for whoever feels they need it. Comms have gone out to our 5000-plus database and they have been advised that those steps are going to be taken.

"And if they do feel that their children or themselves would like some victim support in regards to the incident that happened, they are to contact me and I can put them on to the right people."

Tauranga Netball Centre's board will decide if the ban on the two men will be permanent, Walters said.

"My role will be to ensure that in the immediate future they would not be around the courts," she said.

Otherwise it is netball as usual at the centre.

"We have had a lot of really positive feedback around how the situation was handled and they were very supportive of what happened. We've had a couple of people say they are concerned and have suggested we should get security.

"That obviously is a cost to us, so will have to be discussed, again, at board level… if we would take those steps. And if we do, how we would pay for that.

"It's probably something that all sports around Blake Park on a Saturday might want to collaborate with, in terms of security. As there are thousands and thousands of people down there on a Saturday during the winter."