The “newest, biggest, and best” skatepark in the Wellington region drew budding young skaters in, but some of its users have been pushing them away.
Reports of assaults and bullying at Masterton’s attraction were received by the local police force and Masterton District Council [MDC], which said they were working together to make the park safe again.
“We can’t have people feeling unsafe trying to use a public facility,” Masterton Police senior sergeant Ian Osland said.
Police had spoken with some parents of children who were victims of bullying, threats and assaults, and were working with the families of those causing issues.
“They are small pockets of young children. We are working with the council and looking at some strategies to impact this current spate of activity.”
MDC said it was aware of the “unacceptable behaviour” but was limited in what it could do to oversee activity at the park.
“The majority of users have an enjoyable time and behave appropriately towards other uses,” MDC manager of regulatory services Steven May said.
“The skating community was the driving force behind redeveloping the park and generally models the positive behaviour we expect to see at the skatepark, particularly around supporting younger users.”
May said violence or threatening behaviour of any kind was unacceptable, and people should report it to the police.
“Adults also have a role in modelling appropriate behaviour and supervising young children.”
Osland said police would consider restrictions and sanctions to prevent future abuse, such as restricting access to the skate park.
“We are going to increase police presence over Easter weekend and the school holiday period to try and add a level of reassurance to the general public and intervene if there is any behaviour that is impacting public safety.”
He said the situation was difficult as the offenders were about 11 to 13 years old.
“There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes with some of the identified families linked to the behaviour.”
“We will be engaging with as many agencies as possible to support not only the victims but the families of the offending children.”
Masterton’s new skatepark – rated the “newest, biggest, and best” in the Wellington region by WellingtonNZ – opened in February, the culmination of a two-year project funded through the government’s Provincial Development Unit and Masterton District Council.