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Skatepark bullying rears ugly head again

Another bullying incident at Masterton skatepark has shone a spotlight on the absence of kaitiaki [guardians] at the facility.

The incident during the Easter weekend, which was flagged and discussed on social media, raised fears of a resurgence of last year’s spate of violent incidents at the skatepark that included a boy having to be taken to hospital after a group of teenagers beat him, kicked him and stomped on his head.

Sam Hall, Piki Avery, and Grace Woods finished up their skatepark kaitiaki roles when funding for them ended just before Christmas last year. They had been at the park daily after school, between about 4 pm and 6 pm.

Hall said the recent bullying behaviour is not unexpected at the park but did not happen when kaitiaki were present.

“We’ve done a lot of work in the schools, and we’ve been present at the skatepark – they all know us so well,” he said.

“We’ve never had any issues whatsoever when we were there. Even when we’re not there they know we will be there.”

Hall believes the weekend incident wouldn’t have happened if kaitiaki had been there.

“It wouldn’t have even started” – and said their presence had been a disincentive to negative behaviours.

“It’s good to have people there. If you are a skater, it doesn’t matter what part of the world you’re in or where you are in the country – you’re all part of the same community and you all look out for each other,” he said.

The three kaitiaki had heard about multiple low-level incidents at the park in the months since their funding ended and thought it would probably escalate. “I know of four other councils that pay for full-time kaitiaki,” Hall said.

“It’s been amazing what it [the skatepark] has done for the kids in the community. It’s an asset to Masterton, it really is.”

Masterton District councillor Stella Lennox helped arrange the funding for kaitiaki in her personal capacity through the Friends of Queen Elizabeth Park. The roles were funded by grants from Trust House and the Tindall Trust.

She agrees the roles are needed but said finding funding is the issue.

“There do need to be kaitiaki at the skatepark. I agree the skatepark is a safe place and fun for everybody when there are kaitiaki there.”

Lennox said Masterton Council already pays to maintain the facility and thought alternate funding sources are needed for the roles.

“We can’t get any more funding through Friends of the Park, and it should not fall on ratepayers to fund the kaitiaki. As soon as there are issues at the skatepark it’s put back on council, and this shouldn’t be the case.”

She is currently making efforts to find other funding sources although she noted that “I can’t promise anything”.

In the meantime, Hall thinks incidences of challenging behaviour can be expected to increase.

“It’s just going to get worse and worse,” he said.

“We’ve watched it happen before.”

1 COMMENT

  1. Council made a Ghetto by not thinking 🤔 about community safety 🤔. Example swimming pools have safety fencing and a security system for user’s when open to the public and when closed. The skate park is only by name it’s not used like a park is. The skatepark needs fencing and run like the swimming pools otherwise it will get damaged and and become a safety issue 😕 for user’s. WHAT WHERE YOU THINKING 🤔 WHEN YOU HAD IT BUILT??.

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