Man sets up camp in city park

By Allison Hess

1 comment
PARKED: A man has set up home in Graham Park, off Takitumu Drive, for several weeks. PHOTO/JOHN BORREN
PARKED: A man has set up home in Graham Park, off Takitumu Drive, for several weeks. PHOTO/JOHN BORREN

The city council is looking at options to remove a man it says has been camping in a Tauranga park.

Te Moanaroa Rikirangi has set up a camp in Graham Park, off Takitumu Drive and below 10th Ave, though his reason for being there is not fully understood.

When the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend spoke to Mr Rikirangi, he said he was there in protest over a land dispute.

He said once the issue was settled he was happy to clean up and leave the park.

Mr Rikirangi said he had kept the campsite and himself clean, and members of the public walking by had given him support.

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Tauranga City Council was unclear exactly why the man was living in the park.

Staff have visited and spoken with him.

"Monitoring staff have been to speak with him. He has cited various reasons for being there, but the essential issue we are dealing with is homelessness," council customer services manager Margaret Batchelar said.

Ms Batchelar said it was a complicated social situation, not as simple as moving the person off the land because they would just go somewhere else.

"Staff put a lot of work into resolving these situations through negotiation, liaising with other agencies like the New Zealand police and homeless shelter."

Issuing a trespass notice and police enforcing the notice was a last resort, she said.

Mr Rikirangi's living quarters were brought to the attention of the council by councillor Bev Edlin after she had been told of the situation by former regional councillor Andrew von Dadelszen.

Mr von Dadelszen lives nearby and walks his dog along the path that passes the park.

He said the man had been there for more than a month, and despite the camp being "very well set up", he had no toilet facilities.

"A month is too long for this to be going on in my view. When a full camp can be set up like that, it's ridiculous."

Mr von Dadelszen urged the council to "get some backbone" and do something about it.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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