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Assault in park alarms community

LAUREN PRIESTLEY AND EMMA WHITTAKER
Last updated 05:00 08/08/2014
Maybury Reserve

CRIME SCENE: Maybury Reserve was cordoned off on July 28 while police and forensic staff examined the reserve.

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The plea for safer parks is getting louder in Glen Innes after an alleged sexual assault in Maybury Reserve.

A teenage girl reported the incident on the evening of July 27.

Police are releasing little information about the incident but are asking the community not to jump to conclusions after a number of accusations and threats appeared on Facebook.

No arrests have been made yet but the investigation is making progress, a police spokeswoman said.

Safety improvements in Maybury Reserve are long overdue, Tamaki Community Patrol volunteer Josephine Bartley said.

"We've been talking about this for years. And then something like this happens.

"People need to take this really seriously. That's a young girl that was attacked. I just don't understand why people aren't kicking up a big stink about it. It's unacceptable."

Community patrol volunteers come across people drinking, loitering and sleeping in Maybury Reserve on a regular basis.

If more people would put their hand up to help, they could increase the number of nights they can patrol, Bartley said.

"Our community needs to just keep an eye out for each other. If you see young girls out on their own like that, call the police or the community patrols."

Glen Innes resident Lonny Levi said the community is calling for "more lighting, more lighting, more lighting".

Levi runs the G.I Eastsiide Glen Innes Auckland Facebook page, which has more than 4000 followers.

A post about the Maybury incident prompted multiple responses calling for everything from lights to 1.8 metre fences around the park. He is compiling the main points to submit to the local board this week.

"This has been going on for quite a while now. The majority are saying there needs to be some more lighting."

Maungakiekie Tamaki Local Board chairman Simon Randall says vigorous planning is needed. The board is working on a masterplan for Maybury with the Tamaki Redevelopment Company (TRC).

Community events such as the Matariki Light Trail encourage more people to use the reserve, he says. This year's event finished on July 26 - just one night before the incident.

"It's more eyes on the park which discourages that sort of behaviour," Randall says.

"These issues have been around a long time and are complex. We need to do some robust planning so that whatever we put in place actually is effective."

TRC spokesman Peter Fa'afiu agrees it needs a holistic approach.

There are a large number of state houses on streets surrounding the reserve, including Maybury St and Rowena Crescent.

TRC is working with the local board and Housing New Zealand on a reserve regeneration which could include reorienting houses, cutting down trees, lighting and creating better town centre links, he says.

"It's about looking at it from a wider perspective. Why is it that families are unable to go into that park with their children?

"When we've spoken to the police, the number one thing they've said to us is actually around spatial planning. They're the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff but if we actually plan the layout of parks, police wouldn't have to be there 24 hours a day."

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Housing New Zealand area manager John Walker says the organisation has received no reports this year from tenants feeling unsafe in the Maybury Reserve area. It is working with TRC to "support a shared vision of a safe, thriving community", he says.

Contact police on 302 6400 if you have information about the assault in Maybury Reserve.

- East And Bays Courier

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