I have always been proud to be a westie. In West Auckland, or as I prefer to call it Waitakere, there is an exquisite combination of natural beauty, wonderful communities and utterly decent ordinary people. Ethnically the area is diverse. Although there are pockets of wealth mostly people struggle to get by but do so with dignity. There is a deep affection for the area and a willingness to help each other that really makes you proud to be a westie.
Lately West Auckland has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Four alleged homicides in less than a month, two domestic, one from a neighbourhood dispute and the latest allegedly involving a 12 year old and a 13 year old and the robbery of a local dairy owner have put West Auckland in the media for all of the wrong reasons.
The deaths have created a deep sense of unease. What is going wrong?
Local MP Phil Twyford has expressed his deep misgivings:
What kind of country have we become when a dairy owner is killed in his shop at 7 o’clock in the morning allegedly by a child with a knife?
“The young accused were well known to local shopkeepers in a retail centre where begging, intimidation and anti-social behaviour have unfortunately been all too common.
“The community is asking why there has not been a more visible police presence, with regular foot patrols to discourage law-breaking. There is a community constable delegated to cover Henderson but the officer is based in Massey. We’d like to see a community constable based in the town centre, with a shop front on the main street.
The right have responded predictably. Cameron Slater claimed that Twyford was politicising murder. Obviously as far as he is concerned it is better for the causes not to be debated.
This claim is deeply hypocritical. David Farrar during 2008 posted a series of posts suggesting that violent crime was worsening and implying that the fifth Labour Government was responsible and Slater is well known for using crime of various sorts to whip up hysteria. They have always been willing to run the law and order issue when it suits. They have also trumpeted apparent crime rate reductions as a vindication for this Government although it appears to me that the reduction is somewhat ephemeral and largely a response to a deliberate decision to deal with more matters by way of alternative action. There is also an international trend for there to be a reduction in crime rates. This does not stop the Government from claiming that it is the reason crime rates are allegedly dropping. But the Government should then wear it if things start to deteriorate.
As far as I am concerned there is a political element to what is happening out west and this is why this Government’s policies should be put under the microscope. Potential causes include the following:
I apologise in advance for saying that there is a political element to these dreadful events. But poverty, policing, education and work conditions are all matters that depend heavily on politics.
We really need to rethink our approach to how our society is running. Because based on recent events we clearly have a problem.