Legal high shop a new low

SARAH CODDINGTON
Last updated 05:00 16/01/2014
Legal High Shop
DRUGS WORRY: Business owners say a legal high shop is attracting undesirable behaviour in Papatoetoe.

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Business owners close to a legal high shop say they're increasingly worried about their safety.

Customers are often seen waiting outside the doors of Hunters Corner Heaven and Dreams before it opens each morning.

Retailers close to the East Tamaki Rd store did not want to be named when spoken to by a Manukau Courier reporter. But many complain of hearing people yelling and crying outside the shop if they can't afford the items on sale inside.

Some lock their doors and don't stay at work after dark in the winter because they are worried about their safety.

New Zealand First list MP Le'aufa'amulia Asenati Lole Taylor's office is across the road from the store.

The shop is close to several schools and people are often seen queuing outside, she says.

"It creates a negative image to the younger generation passing. It is concerning they may think this is OK."

Many of the customers live nearby and others come from central Auckland stores, Mrs Lole Taylor says.

"Hunters Corner was once referred to as the ‘golden circle' and now it's becoming the golden circle of drugs, prostitutes and abuse."

The area is infamous as a street prostitution hub and now there are concerns it will be known for its legal high stores, she says.

Fights have broken outside a bar close to the store, Mrs Lole Taylor says.

"The bar is popular with the prostitutes' pimps to wait in and they are the same people who are clients of the store," she says.

Stories of people disturbed by the noise and drinking associated with prostitution, along with threats of violence in Papatoetoe, have been reported in the Manukau Courier in the past.

Prostitution was legalised in 2002 and street prostitution is also a legal activity.

But Mrs Lole Taylor wants a ban on street prostitution and sex workers moved to working in licensed locations.

Some business owners would also like to see the legal highs shop moved elsewhere and community meetings are being planned to discuss the issue.

Papatoetoe business owners and leaders first spoke out against the store when it opened in May last year.

It has had two changes of ownership since then. The current owner also owns the Manurewa Heaven and Dreams store.

Staff at the Hunters Corner store told the Manukau Courier the owner was on holiday and could not be reached for comment.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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