Vandalism and verbal abuse in Horowhenua are putting young people off rowing and leaving them scared about their safety, a meeting in Levin has been told.
Horowhenua Rowing Club member Michael Fryer, 17, became emotional as he described, at yesterday's Lake Domain Board meeting, thousands of dollars of damage to the boats.
"We want permission to be able to use the lake without threats and damage to our boats. The spirit of the lake would be disappointed in what has happened. Everyone deserves the right to respect."
The promising rower, whose own boat had holes punched through it, said he would not be able to train and his boat might not be able to be repaired.
"The club will rise from this mess," he said.
However, club treasurer Jo Mason was not as hopeful as she said the club struggled financially and any increase in insurance premiums or extra security measures would be difficult to cope with.
Mrs Mason said the abusive behaviour and vandalism were psychologically destructive to the club members and some of the young people were scared. She said it did not show Levin in a good light.
"I'm not sure where we would find the money if the insurance company asked us to install CCTV or an alarm system."
Mrs Mason said the club was one of the poorer ones in the country. After New Zealand's rowing success at the Olympics, it had the opportunity to gain new rowers from local schools, but several were put off after being intimidated and verbally abused by some members of the public.
"The kids came down to have a look and this particular man came over and started screaming profanities and kicking over boats. We had to call the police. We've had to call the police a few times about him recently."
Detective Peter Vine confirmed police had attended several incidents at the rowing club in recent months and were continuing their investigations.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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