30 Aug 2023

Rotorua mayor calls for more police after girl attacked outside library

12:22 pm on 30 August 2023

File image. Photo:

Rotorua's mayor says the city is in desperate need of extra police and has renewed her call for reinforcements after a girl was attacked outside the library.

It was the second time it had happened in the past week - to two different girls.

Rotorua mayor Tania Tapsell said the city was already behind in police numbers, considering it had one of the highest crime rates in the country.

On Wednesday afternoon police said three youths had been referred to Youth Aid after the two assaults.

A spokesperson said police would continue to have an increased presence in the CBD.

Police understood given the ages of those involved and the level of violence used, that the incidents were disconcerting for the community.

Residents outside the same library where the two teenagers were attacked said they were becoming concerned for their safety.

"You're almost looking over your shoulder, you're checking the environment out, that's for sure," Lesley said.

Rotorua bus stop

The bus stop near the library where both attacks occurred. Photo: RNZ / Jordan Dunn

Another resident, Cheyenne, said she was becoming worried for her kids.

"I'm now scared to now actually let my children catch the bus themselves, it's a horrible time."

"It's not good that you can't be in public by yourself without worrying about someone attacking you," a father said.

Many of them agreed with their mayor, and said more police would make them feel safer in the city's CBD.

"I would like to see a higher security presence," Cheyenne said. "I think that would be a good preventative measure first, at least."

"Nothing seems to be done about it really, they just carry on," one commuter said.

But Taniele Edwards, a hapū member of Tura Te Ngakau, a trust supporting local hapū and iwi, said that would only inflame things.

"I don't think that's the solution at all," she said. "I think it would cause more damage, having a police presence just encourages conflict.

"Youngsters don't have a good relationship with police."

Having a daughter of her own, Edwards had been told how awful bus stops can be for young people.

"The kids and their bullying tactics - how they group together, and they just attack anybody that's there that they feel they can get on top of. "

Better, and safer school transport, along with more Māori wardens could help keep younger people safe in the short term, Edwards said.

Police Minister Ginny Andersen said arrangements were being made to boost police presence.

"I've just spoken with Tania Tapsell, in terms of what the local plan is to get back on top of safety in the community," Andersen said.

However, National Party spokesperson for police Mark Mitchell said little would be achieved.

"She stood in the house 16 times, in the last few months that she's been minister, saying that people should feel safer," he said.

"I don't expect any response from Ginny Andersen at all to understand or to know what to do with the situation in Rotorua."

Anderson said the mayor would be meeting tomorrow with the police's Rotorua Area Commander, Herby Ngawhika.

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