12 Apr 2019

Closed Auckland gun club looks at application to resume shooting

8:27 am on 12 April 2019

A bitter standoff between a gun club and its neighbours could continue for a long time yet, with members considering how they can keep shooting despite a court order to stop.

Warning signs at the entrance to the Auckland gun club in Makarau.

Warning signs at the entrance to the Auckland gun club in Makarau. Photo: RNZ / Joanna MacKenzie

Residents of Makarau have been lobbying to shut the Auckland Gun Club down for over two years, and claim they've been intimidated - including having a swastika spray-painted on a shed.

But the club claims to be the victim of an inept Auckland Council and, despite its former president yesterday saying it would disband, an insider said that's not the case.

One club member, who spoke to RNZ on the condition he only be referred to as a spokesperson, said the club had not disbanded, as claimed by former president Chris Gee yesterday.

But he said they had stopped shooting.

He said a resource consent application lodged with the council in 2017 was still live and committee members were considering the government's new gun laws.

After that, he said the club "absolutely" could proceed with the application and, if successful, resume shooting.

A swastika sprayed on to a shed with protest signs on the neighbouring property to the gun club.

A swastika sprayed on to a shed with protest signs on the neighbouring property to the gun club. Photo: RNZ / Joanna MacKenzie

The man vehemently denied the allegations of intimidation and even claimed the protesters weren't above daubing swastikas themselves.

That didn't sit well with Kirsty McKay, a trustee of the nearby Vipassana Meditation Centre which led the court action against the club.

"I think that's a shameless response, but not surprising. It wouldn't be the first time the club has provided misleading statements to the media."

She wasn't surprised to hear that the club was still considering how it might resume shooting.

"We didn't expect that they would disband, we expected that they'd keep pushing forward. So it's like, we'll close the club, it's all over - it's just a way of rallying members and fundraising, I expect."

Makarau resident John Raffaelli said he believed gun club members had been parking outside his house to intimidate him, driving off when approached.

He was sceptical about the former president's assertion that the club had disbanded, so word that it's not the case came as no surprise.

"I thought that would always be the case because they've still got a resource consent pending, and they've just lost the Court of Appeal case. So they will have to start from scratch on the resource consent.

"They've persevered this long. It's just whether they've got the backers left after the gun law change."

Another local, who RNZ agreed not to name because she feared retribution, said they had received threatening messages.

"[A sign said], 'If you hear this, you're in range'. Alongside a swastika. And at the same time, we had a sign that said, 'Quiet, babies are sleeping'. That had been ripped off and ripped up.

"And it just felt threatening. It made me wonder, who are the people behind this? What else could they do?"

Protest signs near the gun club.

Protest signs near the gun club. Photo: RNZ / Joanna MacKenzie

Auckland Shooting Club's Chris Gee told RNZ on Wednesday he resigned as the club's president in the wake of the Court of Appeal decision.

He moved to reassure the Makarau community that they were not in danger.

"All I can say is that they shouldn't be worried about the club. The club's closed now," he said.

"I don't even know where these things are coming from - these are terrible allegations. I'm just shocked, you know, I mean, I know of no member that would park outside somebody's house, nobody that would intimidate anybody, nobody that would do these things. These are allegations that should go to the police."

Waitemata North Area Commander Inspector Mark Fergus said in a statement that police had received complaints from both parties in recent years.

"Police have previously met with both parties to try and come to a resolution.

"Any questions relating to resource consent matters should be directed to Auckland Council. If a resource consent is revoked then Police will work with Auckland Council to resolve any concerns.

"Police takes any information regarding the safety of our community seriously. This information is assessed to identify any criminal activity, and take appropriate action as necessary. To date, no criminal activity has been identified."

Auckland Council declined to comment while the latest court decision was still open to appeal.

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