I don't like chains.
Any sort of chains - be it bling around a dope dealers neck, ankle manacles or thick as anchor chains we now have in place, to stop anyone entering our premises when we are not in the whare. These chains are symbolic of a sad society.
Chains are a new thing and a sign of the times here in a town named as a safe anchorage, where back in the day a waka could take refuge from the rough elements in Tauranga Moana.
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Recently we have had to put a thick chain across our entrance and the first day we did that was indeed a sad day given the very name of our trust Te Tuinga means to weave the community together not keep it out.
Next door at the St George's hokohoko community centre it is the same and now the Greerton School over the back fence is having to do the same.
Because of beggars who have worked out a way to pull on the heartstrings of a very kind community here in the village of Greerton. These are not your stock standard poor people who are down on their luck and looking for a little help to see them through their hardships.
No these are opportunist pop-up beggars who have worked out how to pull in $200 a day and then congregate in groups to share in their spoils.
The problem is not just in Greerton and it will start popping up all over Aotearoa if we don't stop giving money. Kai as a koha yes, money a big kao.
I guess the liquor chains are the only chains doing any good out of this dilemma besides the gold-chains of bling paid for with misery money.
Chains do not hold a community together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads, which sew people together through the years and build resilience to all and every challenge that comes its way.
The only chains I really do like are daisy chains - and the more of them the better.
As a good Salvation Army mate of mine keeps telling me, prayer, love and kindness can break the stoutest chains and all cost nothing.
Calling for a rahui on giving money to beggars opens the opportunity to discern who are the genuine ones struggling to make ends meet on the street, while at the same time drying up the damage done by opportunist pop up people who have worked out how to feed their habit.
It would be easy to focus on the war stories of street hustling and going from the deluge of complaints from every sector of the local Greerton community where we operate a trust looking after the lost, the lonely and the homeless, there is a growing concern.
However, working at the front line of poverty, we know where war stories go and most of them end up as headlines.
Many of these war stories are told by people who have milked the system or taken advantage of the goodwill by kind community-minded citizens and once they have done the rounds of all the agencies and held out their hand until it hurts, they start to play the blame game where it everyone else's fault but their own.
Sure, there are many genuine rough-sleeping street dwellers who live day to day on the gratuities they are given, but we need to understand many of these have mental health and addiction issues and giving them money only fuels the fire of hopelessness they face.
Giving them hope is a far better currency to bestow on those down on their luck and it is the currency of choice for us when we are trying to help the homeless.
For all of us who care about our community and don't like to see it locked up in chains, the safe anchorage of Tauranga needs to be just that. When we see something that is not right, in this case, opportunist beggars who already have a home, we need to say something and then we need to do something about it.
Moaning about it or pointing the bone of blame at the most vulnerable members of our community achieves nothing. It just adds fuel to the fire of a perception that things are getting dramatically worse.
Banking on government funding to fix it is naive at best. Banning begging or placing a rahui hamu could be a game changer and will certainly go a long way to putting solutions in place.
We cannot keep invoicing everything back to Wellington when we have the solution in our own backyard.
See something – say something – do something.
firstname.lastname@example.org Tommy Wilson is a local writer and best selling author