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Troubled suburb looks ahead

JULIAN RAETHEL
Last updated 15:42 01/07/2014

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The death of dairy owner Arun Kumar has Henderson still on edge but Auckland Mayor Len Brown has offered a plan to revive businesses there.

Brown met more than 100 business owners, retailers and residents in the West Auckland town centre last night to support the introduction of a business association.

"This process is all about putting the heart back in the west," Brown said.

"It's time to look forward with hope and expectation. There is no time as important as now to be united."

Former Waitakere City Mayor Sir Bob Harvey and Henderson Central Retailers' Association chairman Dean Thompson are among those who have thrown their support behind the initiative with meetings set to begin next week.

This is the first step towards creating a business investment district, where businesses pay a separate levy that goes towards hiring a town manager and promoting investment.

Kumar died on June 10 when he was stabbed in the neck in his Henderson dairy. Two boys, aged 13 and 12 have been charged in relation to his death.

Henderson used to be centre of West Auckland and was where the former Waitakere City Council was based, but since the creation of the Auckland super city in 2010, investment and progress in the town has declined.

Henderson-Massey Local Board member Brenda Brady said three issues were raised at the meeting: the high volumes of begging and intimidation, the drop in retail trade, and the lack of communication between businesses.

"There's kids are on the street demanding money, it's sad," Brady said.

"We also see that the truancy officers are absent. The police did get a hard time at the meeting but they listened."

Vanessa O'Hanlon from Nessie's Cupcakes in Henderson likes the idea of a business association.

She has had a turbulent time over the years dealing with crime.

"It took a while but business was roaring just before Mr Kumar was killed. Then it dropped off," O'Hanlon said.

"I was thinking about not renewing my lease but at the meeting I realised everyone's in the same position."

Brown will meet police and youth workers in coming days and follow that up with a youth summit.

"We need to establish an increased presence within Henderson that supports our young people and gives local people a feeling of strength," he said.

"We cannot afford to compromise the safety of Henderson any longer."

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