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Teen beaten at skatepark

A youngster has been assaulted by a group of teenagers at Masterton skatepark, just weeks after funding for a guardian was discontinued. FLYNN NICHOLLS reports.

Just over two weeks after the skatepark kaitiaki [guardian] role was discontinued due to lack of funding, a group of teenagers have beaten up a 14-year-old at Masterton’s skatepark.

The perpetrators also allegedly harassed other children and threw fireworks.

Emergency services responded to the assault at 4:30pm on Saturday and took the victim to hospital, with several police staying on to make enquiries.

The incident marks a return of violent and antisocial behaviour to the skatepark that had been largely absent since the end of last year when Masterton District Council [MDC] and Te Hapori Skatepark Group established the kaitiaki role.

Concerned parents started Te Hapori Skatepark Group after a series of similar incidents last year, and MDC agreed to fund a kaitiaki to watch over the park during the summer holidays.

Keen skaters Sam Hall and Piki Avery were enlisted to do the job, which involved overseeing the park, teaching kids to ride, and ensuring it was a safe environment for all ages.

Masterton District Council [MDC] funded the role from the end of last year until February, when Te Hapori Skatepark Group picked up the funding.

On May 13, the group ran out of money, and Hall and Avery’s roles have been discontinued until further funding is secured.

Although he wasn’t there on Saturday, Avery said all the fighting was disrespectful and unnecessary.

“After the weekend, they need to get me and my bro back to keep it safe for the kids,” he said.

Te Hapori Skatepark founding member and district councillor Stella Lennox said the group is committed to securing future funding for the kaitiaki role.

“This horrific incident [on Saturday] highlights the absolute need to have someone present at the skatepark in a kaitiaki role during busy times like after school, on weekends, and during holidays,” Lennox said.

“The role, carried out by Sam Hall and Piki Avery, has proven successful in mitigating antisocial behaviour and in supporting rangatahi [youth] who use the park with education around skate skills and skate safety.”

MDC community facilities and activities manager Corin Haines said Te Hapori Skatepark is fundraising to bring the kaitiaki back on an ongoing basis.

“The skatepark group would love to hear from anyone who would like to contribute financially to support this role,” he said.

At a council meeting in February, when MDC resolved to support the skatepark group find external funding, councillor Tim Nelson expressed concerns about what might happen at the skatepark if no external funding was found.

“If we go down that pathway, I just want to make sure there’s not a period of time when the kaitiaki aren’t on site. I wouldn’t want to see that happen. So there should always be a time in which someone’s funding it in one regard just to ensure that they’re there.”

To find out more or to financially support the role, you can contact the skate group at [email protected]

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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