The high incidence of burglary and theft in Puaikura is still one of the main concerns for tourism accommodation operators in the vaka.
Puaikura contains the largest number of accommodation properties making it even more prone to crime.
At infrastructure minister William ‘Smiley’ Heather’s meeting with around a dozen operators on Thursday, government was asked to help them in their efforts to prevent crime. Several people at the meeting suggested that the Puaikura Neighbourhood Watch group be given more support by government and the people of the vaka to carry out its surveillance efforts.
Rohan Ellis, group general manager of three hotels in Arorangi – Manuia Beach, Castaway Beach Villas and Lagoon Lodges – says his hotels are trying to promote the employment of young people from the vaka.
“They’re not born bad,” he says of young thieves, “they have huge wants, but no means to meet them.”
He said his hotels look to employ school leavers and hope other accommodation properties will join the effort to employ young people in the vaka.
Another accommodation operator said her properties had seen two burglaries within two weeks.
She said tourists are generally ‘quite scared’ after finding their belongings stolen. She said one couple had been asleep with the doors locked when thieves broke in and took some of their belongings.
“We try and reassure them that it is kids doing this – many of them think they will come back and stab them in the middle of the night.”
She said the high incidence of this kind of crime was causing visitors to become so distressed that some said they could not sleep for several nights afterwards.
Motorbikes being driven by ‘young hoons’ down Arorangi beaches has been a concern for some operators.
Ellis says these youngsters often have modified bikes with no mufflers on them, creating a lot of noise.