Community shaken by spate of killings in West Auckland
CIARA PRATT AND SHELLEY GRECO
Public safety is again top of the agenda after yet another violent death in West Auckland.
Connor Morris suffered fatal head injuries during a streetfight in Massey on Saturday night.
The 26-year-old was part of a group walking to a petrol station on Don Buck Rd to get refreshments when a fight broke out with people at a nearby address.
Morris is the long-term partner of Millie Elder-Holmes, daughter of the late broadcaster Sir Paul Holmes. He is the sixth person to die a violent death in West Auckland in less than three months after a spate of stabbings, shootings and a house fire claimed the lives of residents in Henderson, Ranui and Massey.
Shopowners and workers just metres down the road from the incident says they are living in fear.
Challenge petrol station shift manager Manish Arora said the violence is putting people on edge.
"A lot of our customers are saying they are going to move and that's if they haven't already. People aren't feeling safe here anymore."
The manager at the Mobil station on Don Buck Rd, who does not wish to be named, said his staff members heard the fight which they reckon went on for more than an hour.
"There are some big parties going on, it's a common thing in this area.
"My staff are scared and we struggle to find anyone to do the nightshift."
He said shoplifting is rampant at businesses in the area and there is nothing workers can do.
"We can't do anything and sometimes we just feel helpless.
"I am going to have a meeting with all of my staff this week to talk about our security measures and how everyone can keep safe."
The pharmacist at Unichem Massey said most people in the area are "genuine" and it's a minority that is responsible for the violence.
Waitakere councillor Linda Cooper said she feels sick for West Auckland.
"I think there's a bit of an underbelly with the gang culture and parents not doing what they need to do to make sure kids have got values."
Cooper said it's widely known that gangs reside in West Auckland but alcohol consumption is also becoming a problem.
"We have got the attitude where people are at a party and drink so much. Alcohol causes people to be aggressive and when it's encouraged you are going to get violence. People only need to look sideways and it's, ‘what are you looking at?'."
Local boards and councillors need to work together to find the right solutions to support the community, she said.
"We haven't quite worked out how to do community development and how to support it in our new council."
Henderson-Massey Local Board member Shane Henderson said the tragic incidents are isolated and could happen anywhere, but Massey is known to have drivers of crime such as poverty and social dislocation.
"I'd agree to an extent with Linda Cooper that we need to look and find solutions as well as boost employment and income. But you also need to remember it's all about boosting our area."
An investigation into Morris' death is under way and police are trying to establish how many people were involved in the fight.
It's thought there could have been as many as 30 people, Detective Inspector Greg Cramer said.
- Western Leader
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