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Once upon a crime in the West

SIMON DAY
Last updated 22:57 14/06/2014

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West Auckland, made notorious for its crime by TV shows like Outrageous Fortune, does not have the resources to stop violence in an area increasingly affected by inequality, according to those working in the area.

There have been four killings in the Henderson-Massey local board area over the past three weeks.

Farhat Malik and her daughter Sidra Malik were allegedly stabbed to death in their home in Ranui on May 20. Two days later Josh Roach was killed in a shootout in the same neighbourhood.

Last week, a 13-year-old was charged with the murder of shopkeeper Arun Kumar. All the deaths were within just 5km of each other.

Social deprivation in that area is leading to crime, according to Waitakere Anti-Violence Essential Services (Waves). The area has a median income of $26,800, below the Auckland median of $29,600. Income differences within the community are also significant.

"If you are thinking about violence in general we really believe that . . . in West Auckland, you see a lot of social inequality. Even within our communities, there are big gaps between the rich and the poor," said Charlotte Moore, research analyst for WAVES.

"My sense is what is happening here is perhaps a reflection of social inequality," she said.

And the community is not being given the power to address the bigger problem in the way other areas are, according to Waipareira Trust chief executive John Tamihere.

"Out here, we don't get the level of resourcing to support our level of difficulties that South Auckland gets on a per capita basis.

"West Auckland doesn't get the level of commitment and support. Why that is, is beyond me," Tamihere said.

Police have suggested young people may be responsible for a spate of similar armed robberies in the Henderson area and Tamihere said government agencies were intervening too late.

"Why would you wait knowing that these kids have difficulty and are at risk and wait until they fall off the cliff before they arrive with the ambulances? There is too much of this nonsense going on, where we have significantly resourced organs of the state that have set their thresholds too high for intervention," said the former Labour MP.

The former Mayor of Waitakere City, Bob Harvey, believes the needs of the West have been forgotten in the amalgamation of the Super City.

"As a council we were known throughout New Zealand for the money we put into social issues.

"Now the Super City has to make the Marmite spread on a very big piece of bread, and they ain't going to do it," said Harvey.

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Family structures are being broken under economic pressures and the facilities are not there to stop children from falling into a cycle of violence and poverty.

"The community, for so long, has been under-resourced. It has been under-resourced and under-appreciated," said Harvey.

But Police are positive about a declining crime rate and an increased presence on the streets of West Auckland.

"All I can tell you about violent crime is that in general it is decreasing in recent years. For example the last financial year shows a 29 per cent reduction in burglary. What that equates to is 900 less victims that we are dealing with," said Acting Area Commander for Waitakere, Rob Cochrane.

Police were patrolling the Henderson CBD "more than we ever had" after it was revealed in 2013 that Waitakere was one of the least-patrolled areas in the country. Foot patrols of just 126 per 10,000 people had been increased to 366 so far this year and there were more than 900 direct mobile patrols.

This increased police presence did not address the root cause of the crime - inequality and poverty, according to the community.

"There is a saying in my mum's whakapapa from Ireland that when poverty walks in the door, love goes out the window," said Tamihere.

- Sunday Star Times

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