Tauranga's most dangerous areas, worst in NZ

By Allison Hess, Jordan Bond

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Tauranga central, Arataki, and Mount Maunganui north are some of the Bay most dangerous areas. Omokoroa, Te Puna and Bethlehem East are some of the safest. Photo/File
Tauranga central, Arataki, and Mount Maunganui north are some of the Bay most dangerous areas. Omokoroa, Te Puna and Bethlehem East are some of the safest. Photo/File

Central Tauranga is in the top 10 most likely places to be assaulted or robbed in the country, according to Statistics New Zealand figures.

There were 167 victims of assault, sexual assault or robbery in public in the central city last year - the most in any Western Bay of Plenty area - and more than 14 times the national average by population.

Click here to see an interactive map of public place assaults in your area.

Arataki had the second highest number of assault and robbery victims in the Bay with 65, followed by Mount Maunganui north with 49.

Acting area commander Karl Wright-St Clair said there was a "strong link" between alcohol and public place violence, and said police were working to reduce the harm it caused.

"We know initiatives such as the one-way door policy, along with the use of CCTV camera and a high visibility police presence can play a role in reducing victimisation through public place violence," he said.

Read more: Young man avoids Tauranga CBD after fight

Hospitality New Zealand regional manager Alan Sciascia said bars and restaurants were busy most weekends but patrons largely acted responsibly because the premises were fully controlled environments.

"The disappointing part is what happens out on the street, out of our sphere of control," Mr Sciascia said.

However, Mr Sciascia said bars were not to blame for excessive drinking - 80 per cent of alcohol consumed in the country was sold at off-licence premises.

He said the country's attitude towards alcohol was an issue which must be confronted.

Tauranga Community Patrol secretary Wayne Heyworth said late night violence in Tauranga was common, but police responded quickly in most cases.

"If there's a brawl or something happening, all of a sudden there are four or five cars from nowhere - they respond very quickly," Mr Heyworth said.

He said bars and nightclubs had private security to keep patrons under control, and a police presence in the central city helped discourage fights.

Tauranga City and Western BOP councils introduced stronger restrictions on the sale of alcohol last year in an attempt to minimise alcohol-related harm. This included a one-way door police for bars and nightclubs which restricted entry after 2am before doors closed at 3am.

Violent offences in the Western Bay suburbs

Least safe:
- Tauranga central 167
- Arataki 65
- Mt Maunganui north 49
- Tauranga Hospital and surrounding areas 42
- Greerton 39

Safest
- Omokoroa 2
- Ohauiti/Ngapeke - 1
- Te Reti 1
- Te Puna 1
- Bethlehem east 0

Bahama Hut in Tauranga CBD is one of the only nightclubs in what co-owner Jade Nelson called a "pretty sleepy town".

Mr Nelson, who has been in the hospitality industry for 14 years and in Tauranga for the past five, said the past couple of years had been the safest he could remember.

The council-led restriction of a one-way door policy after 2am had helped clear the streets faster, he said.

"What used to happen is at 3am there would be hundreds of people sprawl out into the streets, and the struggle of people trying to get taxis and out of town. When that was happening there was a higher chance of some issues."

Bahama Hut has a full security team, with presence on the front door and inside the club, and Mr Nelson said they worked well with police.

"If there are people we think are going to be an issue we give them a heads up or they give us a heads up."

Mr Nelson said it was understandable Tauranga was in the top 10 as New Zealand's fifth largest city. "If we were in the top three, then we would have an issue because we would be over-represented for our size," he said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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