Residents in the Auckland suburb of New Lynn are feeling increasingly unsafe after a spate of shootings rocked the community in recent months. A man was shot and killed, two others left fighting for their lives in hospital and residents left shaken from a home invasion following a string of firearm incidents in October and November. "The violence around here is really shocking. I didn't expect New Lynn to be like this," said a resident who moved into the area in January. "The shooting this week, that was our neighbour. It was literally right next to us, police were everywhere. It was pretty hectic, pretty crazy." A woman is recovering in hospital in a critical condition after receiving a shot in her stomach at a Trojan Cres home in the early hours of Monday morning. A man has been charged with unlawful possession of a firearm, but an investigation remains ongoing. "[Police] arrived in silence, no sirens were on," said the resident, who the Herald has agreed not to name. "They all had guns, I'd say at least 15 police officers with big rifles. They were everywhere. Some were in the bushes, some in the neighbour's yard."
Another incident at the same property around a month earlier also attracted armed officers, the resident claimed.
Meanwhile, father-of-two Robert James Hart was shot and killed in broad daylight on a driveway on Great North Rd, just metres away from next-door motel staff who were cleaning at the time. In October, five Head Hunters gang members were arrested after a shooting on Astley Ave which left a man seriously injured. Two weeks later on the same street, a man allegedly brandished a sawn-off shotgun in a terrifying home invasion involving five others. But New Lynn MP Deborah Russell said residents' fear is misplaced. "Of course I'm worried when there's a firearms incident but I don't think that crime is on the increase and I am confident that our police can deal with this and keep people safe. "I want people to feel confident that they're safe, and I think they are safe. It's just unsettling." Russell said it was reassuring to be told by police that the string of alleged shootings involved people who were known to each other, and they "weren't just random incidents" that involved "ordinary locals". "It's horrid to see this kind of violence but it's not directed at everyone, it is within a small group of people." Another resident, who has lived in New Lynn all her life, said she often sees patched Head Hunter gang members on her street. She believes they are responsible for firearms incidents in the area. "It's business as usual. It's becoming the norm. It sucks. In the last three months it's gone stupid." The resident said she has participated in public meetings on the issue, and written letters to police. "I don't feel that someone is going to shoot me, not yet. The solution has to be to get rid of the gangs and the drugs." Police said they acknowledge recent firearms incidents will be concerning.
"The public will have seen a determined investigative effort in recent months to hold individuals to account," said Detective Inspector John Sutton, Waitematā CIB. "Police would like to reassure the community that the incidents that have occurred were not random events. "There has been a higher police visibility around these areas as a result of incidents." Statistics from the New Lynn police station show there have been 14 offenders linked to prohibited and regulated weapon and explosive offences in the 12 months ending in September. Three offenders were aged between 11 and 17. Whau local board chairwoman Kay Thomas acknowledges there has been "tension and uneasiness" among residents, and said they are right to be concerned. "It certainly appears there has been an increase in violent crime involving guns." But she said the police response has been appropriate and the local board is also supporting security measures, such as funding Waitākere Pacific Wardens. "In one area, the Rosebank area, the local board, police and Business Association are working together on a crime prevention strategy. "We can look at whether it is possible to extend things like that." Meanwhile Russell said the Government is establishing a firearms registry and a new firearms police unit. She said new legislation is intended to be introduced by the end of this year to "bolster the law around firearms". "We'll be keeping a registrar of all firearms and if someone is using a firearm, they're going to have to have their firearms licence with them and be able to demonstrate the firearm is their firearm and not someone else's. "In the shorter term, I want people in New Lynn to know if they're worried about firearms near them, they can talk to police and they should go ahead and do that."
But local residents also want to see more support and preventative measures offered in the community. A Trojan Cres resident acknowledges that police can't patrol the area constantly. "It's not like they're here 24 hours. They just drive past and maybe in the next minute I could get shot. "If the community had more support, more care for each other, more tutoring for our youth, who are in more unfortunate situations." Police would like to reassure the community that the incidents that have occurred were not random events. They continue to ask for information about those illegally in possession of firearms. Information can be provided to police by calling 105, visiting your local station or calling Crime Stoppers anonymous on 0800 555 111.
It's been a rough ride for Auckland. As we regroup as a city in 2022, it is time to act responsibly.
Yet Auckland Council will continue to swell into a bloated, cash-sucking, employee-thickened, debt-laden beast.
Under the Goff administration, the rates grab has accelerated at pace. Auckland Council is now harvesting more than $5.3 billion a year from Aucklanders. This is not demonstrating kindness post-lockdown.
This intake increase has been achieved through a combination of general rate increases of over 16 per cent per annum in some suburbs, significantly increased council fees, fuel tax, and the introduction of an extensive number of targeted rates.
These include: Water Quality Targeted Rate, Natural Environment Targeted Rate, Accommodation Providers Targeted Rate, Rodney Local Board Transport Targeted Rate and now a proposed Climate Action Targeted Rate. Then add the planned introduction of a rubbish collection Targeted Rate for central and north Auckland.
My concern is that, while all ratepayers are targeted to pay these taxes, only a few directly benefit from the projects the money delivers.
Auckland Council is sitting on $16 billion of total liabilities, including council's borrowings along with its interest rate hedging, which is an increase in debt of $5 billion under Goff.
Using debt to pay for infrastructure is reasonable - future generations helping to pay for the assets they will benefit from is fair. The problem is, this council is unable to get the books trending back towards the black.
Furthermore, despite all the spending, Auckland still has gridlock; unaffordable housing; empty "ghost buses"; and most roads no better than they were pre-amalgamation.
Auckland has been adversely led into a perpetual state of deficit - debt levels are now $29,611 upon every Auckland household.
There are now more than 12,000 staff at Auckland Council. Since the Super City was created, the payroll bill has more than doubled and is running just shy of $1 billion a year. One in every four staff members earns more than $100,000 per annum. Middle management overkill. Scandalous.
Auckland Council's own surveys show council's decision-making ability is not trusted by 80 per cent of Aucklanders. Not a healthy, customer-focused, lean organisation.
A scythe needs to be taken to peel council back to core business. It has taken on too many projects and agendas that are actually the domain of central Government - from climate change, business development, to promoting various social agendas.
The payroll bill requires an immediate 20 per cent reduction. This would be a $190 million reduction in costs, which is the equivalent of saving 12 per cent in future rate increases.
Such a cost-cutting exercise must simultaneously not harm the customer's interactions with council but instead greatly enhance them by driving for customer service excellence - including the removal of red tape, greater public transparency over spending, and an unswerving commitment for delivering core council services.
Mayor Goff is proposing a 6 per cent overall average rates increase for this year. This has to be openly challenged as a broken promise. Last year, he guaranteed Aucklanders' rates would not increase by more than 3.5 per cent, following last year's "one-off 5 per cent emergency" rates increase.
The 6 per cent total rates increase is comprised of both a 3.5 per cent average general rates increase, plus an additional climate change tax which will add another 2.5 per cent average rates increase on to our bills. The proposed rate will be paying for business-as-usual council projects such as electric buses, electric ferries, cycleways, and tree-planting which are already planned for.
As I constantly debate at Town Hall, Aucklanders already pay general rates and a regional fuel tax to deliver these types of projects. The council needs to stop "double-dipping" into ratepayer's pockets. After the traumatic year we've just had, it's simply wrong.
Plus there is already a council budget of $152 million for tackling climate change. Surely this money would be better directed into flood prevention measures in suburbs such as Kumeu and Howick; the building of seawalls; or proactive council planning to alleviate storm-water runoff from all the new housing?
Let's call this new climate tax what it really is - a disguised rates hike designed to fill Auckland Council's financial hole after Covid.
Council must cut operational spending and reprioritise within existing budgets.
I urge you to question your local councillor; the Mayor; share this article; start conversations; and ask questions. This is our city, our economic future and our rates.
To lead our city out of these hard times will require its leadership to demonstrate better financial acumen, and a more caring one.
Great results for the Eggs Benedict & Blueberry muffins assessment for the Foundation cooks. Eggs Benedict - a popular Kiwi breakfast or brunch dish, consisting of two halves of an English muffin, each topped with bacon, a poached egg, hollandaise sauce and garnished with chopped parsley.
It was originally popularised in New York City.
Ending this year with the New Zealand Wine (Advanced) Micro-credential and a group of 13 enthusiasts tasting a selection leading of New Zealand Wines. We also prepare a menu of classic dishes to help develop a more in-depth understanding of wine and food pairing.
This is what we tasted:
• Spinach, salmon and cream cheese mille-feuille
• Smoked chicken, brie and cranberry pie
• Pork and chilli kofta, yoghurt sauce
• Beef eye fillet, roasted beetroot and red wine jus
• Raspberry chocolate brownie, whipped cream
Wines tasted -
• Lime Rock, Grüner Veltliner, 2020
• Framingam, Riesling, 2020
• Hans Herzog, Mistral, 2017
• Amisfield, Pinot Noir, 2019
• Heron’s Flight, Sangiovese, 2016
• Loveblock, Sweet Moscato, 2014