Ham East drug shop guard: 'I feel awesome'

Last updated 09:01 30/01/2014
Donald Tewhaiti, Hamilton East Puff Shop
Matt Bowen/Fairfax NZ

"The least we can do..is to repair any of the damage that we've caused': Drug shop guard Donald Tewhaiti.

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Some would argue Donald Tewhaiti is in the devil's pocket, paid to douse the flames that erupt outside his lair.

And they are entitled to their opinion, he'd say.

The father-of-four has been employed as a security guard by U njoY, a controversial legal high dealer in Hamilton East. He's been working outside the dealer's shop for about a fortnight fulfilling his job description: Bringing peace back to the street.

"We identify who causes the trouble and we bar them from the shop," Mr Tewhaiti said.

"There's no point being here if they can't get into the shop so they move on."

There are numerous legal high dealers in Hamilton city but none have raised the ire of responsible citizens like U njoY.

Both side windows of the shop front have been smashed and they're now boarded up. There's still a spiderweb arcing out from a point where a projectile smashed into the remaining glass.

At midday Wednesday Grey St was calm and busy and Mr Tewhaiti was getting friendly bro-handshakes from customers.

His girlfriend's cousin put him onto the job. She's a regular customer and staff asked if she knew anybody for the security guard gig.

She did and, after a brief meeting, Mr Tewhaiti was out of limbo-land and in employment.

"My first day I went around and introduced myself [to the shop owners] and said why we're here. Some said it doesn't matter why you're here, you're a Tail-End-Charlie."

Others were more appreciative. Some admit there has been a change since he appeared two Fridays ago.

Before, U njoY staff didn't know what customers were doing when they walked out or who they were giving drugs to.

Now Mr Tewhaiti does. He managed to identify a group of underage users which he put a stop to, he said.

He has also barred people from the store, including anyone who causes trouble.

"The part I thought would be hardest was the customers, but they've been the best part of the job - they're so supportive. They're happy about it because now they don't get hassled for money and people don't try to staunch them out."

He's also a friendly face for passersby.

An elderly woman stopped one day and said: "I have to ask, do you have ladies of the night in there?"

Tewhaiti replied, no, and she said: "Well, here's my number - if you need some, give me a bell."

U njoY's days look increasingly short - the city council has fast-tracked the bureaucratic process to install the psychoactive substances policy and close down U njoY.

Whatever happens will happen, Mr Tewhaiti said.

"The least we can do, if we have to move, is to repair any of the damage that we've caused and try and return some peace to the neighbourhood again. And I've done it. I feel awesome.

"It's part of the job, but I feel awesome because everybody's back to being Hamilton East again.

"I feel like I've done a really good thing for the community."

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