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‘Don’t meth with us’ says Wairoa

A committed march to rid Wairoa of methamphetamine attracted every generation of the community on Tuesday.

More than 70 whanau, health workers, grandmothers and mokopuna, and Wairoa District councillors marched from Wairoa Taiwhenua across the Wairoa River Bridge and down Marine Parade to the library green.

Marchers like Juanita Hema said they were there because they wanted a safer community.

“We need to get awareness of the ‘P’ epidemic out there so people know what is going on.”

One of the banners proclaimed, ‘don’t fall for crack because it is a pipe dream’.

Marcher Horizon Tamati said the use of ‘P’ was a disease.

He said there was help out there and there were always people wanting to help.

Wairoa District Council deputy mayor Denise Eaglesome-Karekare said she was marching because she wanted a better future for Wairoa whanau. “Methamphetamine is not a future.”

A free screening at the Gaiety of a New Zealand meth documentary, Fighting the Demon, followed the march.

Enabled Wairoa have also made a respite base available for nannies and moko to have a safe place to meet.

Organiser Wiki Hauraki told the marchers they were looking at the services available for those in need, especially for moko and whanau.

Ms Hauraki said they needed to get the devil ‘P’ out of town.

“Let us sort our whanau out and provide them with the wrap-around services they require.”

A number of agencies were acknowledged for their support including Wairoa Taiwhenua, Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated, police and Fulton Hogan, and workers in alcohol and addictions.

Ngaire Culshaw described the ‘P’ issue as a big jigsaw to put together.

“It is not about the ‘I’ or the ‘me’, it is the ‘we’. If we can help troubled families, we can only get better.”

Wairoa Mayor Craig Little said the march was a start — there was a lot of work to do.

“‘P’ is ruining our community and whanau. If you know someone using ‘P’, break that link and tell the police.

“One of the big problems is police do not have the intel out there.”

Others spoke about family members in rehab and the need for more education so people had the skills to say no to meth.

For others it was about the dealers.

Grandmother Mere Kokiri-Tamanui from Te Reinga said everything came in a cycle.

‘The drug after P will be even more lethal and damaging.

“Our moko coming back from the agencies — how do we fix our moko up?

“I can feed my moko and clothe them, but I cannot help them.

“We need to take them to that next level educationally and find them the skills to say no.

“They do not want to be a part of this kaupapa. P is not the issue it is the symptom.”

A former drug user said it was important that this issue was talked about in public.

“There are a lot of things people don’t see. People don’t realise how much damage P can really do in a household.

“I was here today because I want to show children how important this problem is. It is very dangerous.”

Wairoa grandmother Tara Quenneville said it was an issue her family had battled for 11 years.

Holding a picture of Whina Cooper at the start of her land march in 1975, she said the march was about their mokopuna.

“We love our moko.

“We know they are unwell.This is about the choices they are making and Wairoa does not have a rehabilitation facility here.

“We are on the East Coast and we want action.”

“This drug is so readily available and it is not an easy drug to kick.

“They need a place to go when they are ready to try kicking the addiction and we should not have to wait until they become violent or suicidal before they get the help they need.”

COMMUNITY WEIGHT: Wairoa turned out to march against methamphetamine this week. Wairoa Star picture