Trespass order shocks midwife

KELLY DENNETT
Last updated 10:54 16/07/2014

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A woman trespassed from an Auckland pool facility has had no apology and will complain to the Race Relations Commissioner today, she says.

Sarai Tepou, an Auckland midwife, was at Newmarket's Olympic Pools and Fitness Centre on Saturday with her cousin and their children. They were asked to leave by police who served them with a two-year trespass order.

It came as a shock to Tepou who said she'd been a regular visitor to the pool for the past decade and hadn't had any contact with staff except while entering the centre.

She believed her family had been targeted because of their Pacific Island ethnicity.

"They [the police] said there have been items that have been missing from the facility and it's when you and your family are here that it happens," Tepou said this morning.

"I said 'what evidence have you got?' They didn't provide anything.

"The demeanour of the police and staff when they interacted with us - they were treating us like criminals."

Tepou had taken independent advice and was also likely to seek legal counsel, she said.

Although company director Rob Nikkel had told media that he planned to apologise to Tepou she had not heard from him and even if she did, it would be too little, too late, she said.

"Do you really think for me to put myself through this that I would accept that? I'm definitely going to go all the way.

"It's good if they apologise, but I believe I deserve more compensation and more accountability.

"You would think they'd make an effort to ring me but there's been nothing at all," she said.

Nikkel said he intended to personally apologise to Tepou today and was "truly sorry" for the mistake.

"We want to reiterate it had absolutely nothing to do with any particular ethnic group and all to do with the safety and security of the pools," Nikkel said.

"A month ago we were requested by police to alert them to any persons of interest that attended the pool.

"Our staff identified a person who was believed to be a person of interest who was accompanied by Sarai so they followed the police request in good faith.

"Sarai inadvertently got caught up and we made a mistake in her situation. We are truly sorry and happy to lift the trespass notice immediately."

However, Nikkel said he was still waiting on the results of a police investigation as to whether the trespass order would also be lifted for Tepou's cousin.

"That's something we need to receive clarification on but because the investigation is still ongoing I'm limited in what I can say," he said. 

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