The citizens of Tāneatua are promised a new police station – but they may find it is open for business only sometimes

A “best of luck” message should be extended to the good people of Tāneatua, who have waited patiently for a new police station.

Our experience suggests that if or when they get their new police station, they should check the fine print regarding hours of operation.

We make this suggestions after our experience trying to make contact with the forces of law and order at the Kapiti Police Station in Paraparaumu.

Local shops typically are open for much longer than the Kapiti police, according to this advice on their website: 

Kapiti Police Station

Open hours: 

8.00am – 5.00pm Mon – Fri

Weekends?

Nah. The criminal classes of Kapiti apparently observe government department working hours and take weekends off.

Hmm.  Maybe another police station is open for business when we need to communicate with a copper outside Kapiti opening hours.

Let’s check:

Police stations close by

Otaki Police Station … 9.00am – 3.00pm Mon – Fri .  Call first to confirm

Waitangirua Police Station ….   By appointment only

Porirua Central Police Station … 8.00am – 4.00pm Mon – Fri

Naenae Community Policing Centre …  No set hours

Lower Hutt Police Station … 8.00am – 7.00pm Mon – Fri ;  8.00am – 4.00pm Sat – Sun, public holidays

A member of the Point of Order team, who admits he failed to first check out the hours of service on the website referenced above, drove to the station in Paraparaumu on Sunday (30 minutes) to hand in a an electronic smart watch he had found on a nearby beach.

The station was closed.

Before driving back next day he phoned the station to ensure someone would be on duty at the desk.  For 20 minutes (until our team member wearied of holding on to the phone) all he heard was very disagreeable music punctuated by several programmed messages to advise the call would be answered soon but – alternatively – there was an online option for making contact.

The online experience (he found) was not user-friendly.  After navigating to what seemed to be the right place, our team member was cautioned that the form to be filled in would take 10 minutes.

The Queen Elizabeth Park ranger’s office was open on Monday and the staff willing to help a member of the public.  They now have the watch in their care.

Madeleine Chapman, a Senior Writer at The Spinoff, has had a similar experience.

She sought more information about an incident outside Dargaville on State Highway 12 involving a woman who was reading a book, her husband who was driving, and their son who was asleep in the back seat when an axe flew through the windscreen.

The short-handled axe (or hatchet)  struck the book the woman was reading.  She received minor bruises and cuts; the driver and the child were uninjured.

On the morning of October 29, Chapman set out to answer one question and one question only: what book saved a woman’s life outside Dargaville?

She eventually found the answer, but in the process, uncovered many more questions.

Sergeant Lance Goulsbro knew what I knew and nothing more. He declined my call using one of the pre-written message rejections: please text me.

“Hi Lance… I have just two pressing questions you could really help with…

1) How long was the axe?

2) What book was she reading?”

He called me to say that he couldn’t help, he was just the officer on desk duty that day. “Try the Dargaville police station,” he said.

After 13 minutes on hold with the police, I did my own investigating …

And subsequently:

I called the police again the next morning and they redirected the call to the Dargaville station. Nobody answered. I tried again an hour later. Again they redirected and again nobody answered.

After 37 minutes on hold with the police during my fourth attempt, I debated whether it would be quicker to drive to Dargaville and ask in person….

Good luck, therefore, to the people of Tāneatua

The Police Station there was extensively damaged by fire in December last year and community members were told in July it would be demolished within six weeks to be replaced with a new station combined with a community hub.

Three months later, the community is complaining it sees no signs of progress on a new station and it is feeling unsafe and disappointed.

Modern-day interpretations of the Treaty of Waitangi, curiously, play a part in what is happening – or not happening.

The RNZ report on the problems with a local police station was prepared by Local Democracy Reporting, a public interest news service supported by RNZ, the Newspaper Publishers’ Association and NZ On Air.

It says:

Many community members are blaming the lack of progress on the partnership between police and the T?hoe iwi authority Te Uru Taumatua (TUT). The two organisations are believed to be building the new police station together.

Honey Thrupp said she had heard that TUT were holding the process up, which she found “extremely frustrating”.

“I am upset that only they have been given the right to speak for locals; why aren’t we involved in this decision making too?” she said.

“We feel left out of the process and are getting no explanation as to why it’s taking so long. I’ve heard the police are very frustrated, but their hands are tied as it’s TUT holding up the process. TUT is only included in this so the police can be politically correct, but they need to be held accountable as to why they are dragging it out so long.”

Acting area commander Stuart Nightingale said police now hoped to have the burned-out station demolished by Christmas.

The new station is still in the design stage, but he expected it would be very different to what the community had before.

Representatives from Te Uru Taumatua did not respond to requests for comment.

This should not surprise anybody. One of the weaknesses of “partnership” is the corroding of our democratic structures and the attenuating of lines of accountability.

The accountability issue raises an interesting question for media follow-up (another challenge for Madeleine Chapman at The Spinoff, perhaps).  “Partnerships” like this involve two or more communities.  Which one is being given priority by the police during their consultations with the public on the service they should provide?

3 thoughts on “The citizens of Tāneatua are promised a new police station – but they may find it is open for business only sometimes

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