Thousands of Whangārei people say they have had enough of violent crime in the city, after the death of a man trying to protect a woman outside a Whangārei petrol station.
Shayden “Kenana” Perkinson died on Saturday night after he stepped up to help his cousin, who was confronted by two masked men as she went to the ATM outside the Gull station in Raumanga.
Police have launched a homicide investigation and said they are making positive progress into the investigation.
Two men, aged 24 and 29, were arrested and charged with murder on Thursday evening. Two other people have also been arrested in connection with the incident.
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His death has prompted outrage over rising crime in Whangārei, with about 500 people lining the streets on Thursday during his funeral procession.
Latest police statistics show crime in Whangārei, in the 12 months to 28 February 2023, rose nearly 30% on the year before.
This includes assaults up 10% in the year to 638 and thefts up 38% to 4540.
More than 3400 people have joined a Facebook page, Whangārei Stand-Up, where public meetings and protests are being planned, in order to prompt Government action on crime.
The group was set up as a way for the community to do something positive, said organiser Mike, who asked for his last name to be withheld.
“We’ve got a lot of youth crime in Whangārei – the feedback from our locals is that they’re living in fear … We need to get our voice out there.”
Gangs and high methamphetamine use were part of the problem in Whangārei, he beleived.
One group member, businessman Zee Tana from Palate Wholesome Collective, said rising crime was a safety concern for staff members and vulnerable community members, like the elderly.
“The community have said, ‘we’ve had enough’.”
His business is based inside Whangārei petrol stations and staff have witnessed seven robberies in the last eight months, including one at GAS Tikipunga where the petrol station managers were threatened with machetes.
Tana hopes Whangārei Stand-Up will lead to strong community networks, led by ward councillors.
Business people also need to know more about what they can do, and can’t do, to protect themselves, he said.
Whangārei District Councillor and former police officer Gavin Benney said crime and violence in Whangārei was far worse than in other cities.
“We have a real issue – there’s a variety of factors for that but I believe we’re in a real poor state unless we all work together.”
Benney wrote a report in January, in response to an outbreak of youth crime, including ramraids, in Whangārei.
He concluded there were a number of different agencies working to help at-risk youth but there was a lack of co-ordination and accountability.
Social agencies and Government departments needed to work together for a whole-of-whānau approach, Benney said.
While the council had a limited role in this sort of thing, he had passed the report onto local MPs and hoped there would be some change.
Mike backed Benney’s approach and urged the Government to consider it.
But Former MP Shane Jones, who is standing for NZ First in the Northland seat this election, believed gangs were the root of the problem – indicated by the all-white clothing observed on Perkinson’s alleged perpetrators.
He advocated a Queensland-style crackdown on gangs, where gang insignia is banned and police taskforces are dedicated to arresting gang members, plus tougher jail sentences.
Whangārei MP Emily Henderson, from Labour, said while the response to crime was an important discussion, the day of Perkinson’s funeral was not the day to be discussing it.
“All I’m thinking about is the whānau and their grief … It’s too painful for people today.”