2 Dec 2018

Ōtaki wants to stamp out meth use

8:52 am on 2 December 2018

Residents in the Kāpiti town of Ōtaki are calling for change as it grapples with a methamphetamine epidemic.

Members of the Otaki community on the Kapiti Coast held a hikoi against the use of methamphetamine in the region. 1 December 2018

Members of the Ōtaki community on the Kāpiti Coast held a hikoi against the use of methamphetamine in the region. Photo: RNZ / Dan Dalgety

Around 200 people marched through the town today in protest at the damage caused to their community by the drug.

A coffin was carried during the protest with a sign saying "Kāpiti Coast, no more meth".

A haka welcomed marchers once they reached the Ōtaki Domain, while former addicts also shared their experiences.

One of the organisers, Rawiri Barriball, said he was looking after his three nieces because their parents were battling meth addictions. He said some people were fearful about speaking out.

"[We want to] just get people aware - users, addicts, families where they can get help.

"Maori and Pacific Islanders hold back those emotions instead of getting it out there. That's what's lacking with our people - we need to be upfront and tell people our problems and get it seen to," Mr Barriball said.

A hikoi was held in Otaki against methamphetamine. 1 December 2018

Photo: RNZ / Dan Dalgety

Participant Marama Takao said she wanted something done to help meth addicts turn their lives around. She said the drug had caused a lot of pain.

"In Ōtaki, I think it's an epidemic - and other smaller towns all over the country. It's breaking up families, and I'm here because of my mokopuna (grandchildren). I don't want them to have that opportunity to do this."

Another participant Doug Fake, who works in family violence, knows what can happen when people get mixed up with drugs. He said meth addicts were hurting their families.

"We've seen people evicted over time because of levels in the walls [of the homes]. That means families are left out in the open, nowhere to go. Puts a lot of stress on family, creates sickness, ill health, mental health, unemployment. It goes on."

Mr Fake said the drug was also causing more deaths.