These loos are scary at night. But by day, Manurewa locals still want to use them. Candice Reed reports.
To pee or not to pee? That is the question for Manurewa locals.
Although for many, it's not so much a question as a necessity, explains a takeaway restaurant employee. ``The public need toilet facilities, the call of nature is very strong,' says Nancy Joe.
Mrs Joe, and others, is crossing her fingers that the infamous Northcrest public toilets on Maich Rd will be dealt to once and for all. For years, locals have complained about undesirable activity, such as drug deals and sex acts, that occurs late at night near the site.
The issue has been debated extensively by Manukau City Council and Manurewa Community Board members and, on Monday, it was raised again at the community board meeting. This time it was recommended the toilet block be locked permanently during the week, opening only on Sundays for the weekly markets.
Mrs Joe says this is unfair. ``The behaviour is a concern, but during the day is not bad,' she says. ``This is not when the bad stuff is going on. We need to protect the people who are doing the right thing.'
Mrs Joe can see the toilet block from her business and says many parents with young children use the toilets during the day.
``Locking up the public toilets during the day wouldn't solve anything and wouldn't help anyone,' she says.
Local taxi driver Mihi Toki agrees. She's involved with the Maori Wardens, whose offices are near the toilet block, and often waits in the taxi rank queue outside the toilets.
Mrs Toki says the taxi drivers keep an eye on the activity near the toilets and says during daylight hours they are used by shoppers.
``What happens there happens late at night, so why do people doing the right thing during the day have to be crucified for that? Council has an obligation to provide these facilities.'
Opposite the toilets is the local RSA.
President Graham Dolan says it recently changed its security measures and now people must enter through the front door., which faces the toilets. It hasn't been welcomed by members.
``Just the other night we had a guy who wouldn't leave through the front door because of the types of people waiting out the front,' he says.
``The older members, or any member, doesn't need to be frightened coming in here.'
Meanwhile, Manurewa Business Association spokesman Murray Dunbier says he's asked for help countless times.
He says locking the loos up is the ``best of a bad option'. ``I'm sure there will be some level of support for that (but), it's about time council got its act together and did something about this.'
FLUSHING OUT MANUREWA'S PROBLEM At Monday's community board meeting options were explored to reduce the number of people loitering around the loos at night.
These included permanently locking the toilet block. The board was also told it would cost $7000 to demolish the block, between $137,000 to $165,000 to replace the block with an Exceloo, and $20,000 to further improve lighting and upgrade the facility.
The final decision will come from the community board, which says it's exploring a number of options. Chairman Michael Bailey says there's a long way to go before the issue is resolved.
But he praises the council for recently adding more lighting and trimming the trees around the loos which has reduced the number of people hanging around during the night.
He says what happens to the toilet block is part of a wider upgrade to the Manurewa CBD. ``We're still working our way through the concept of what we'll do. Any costing is a cost on the ratepayer,' he says.
``It's alright for the board to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars but it's actually me or you as a local who foots that bill. We've got to make the right choice for everyone.'