Barbecue reclaims streets in Flaxmere

By LAWRENCE GULLERY

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The mobile community barbecue Tunu Tunu is likely to visit Flaxmere Park this week, following an attack on four young women there a week ago on Sunday.

The girls, aged 15 to 18, were walking through the park about 8.30pm on February 3 when they were approached by two men. Two of the girls were pulled behind a bush and indecently assaulted.

The attack angered Flaxmere ward councillor Henare O'Keefe who on Friday night, was managing the mobile barbecue's first outing of the year in Ramsey Cres in the suburb.

He indicated the cooking unit's second visit of 2013 may be Flaxmere Park, to encourage the community to take "our parks and our streets back".

"I literally despise this sort of behaviour," he said.

"We all have the right to walk our parks without fear of reprisals, it is our God-given right to do so.

"I personally will continue to walk our parks whenever I choose, if I don't, they win.

Flaxmere Park is ours, there's no way these undesirables are going to intimate me or our beloved suburb. To attack four defenceless young girls is cowardly."

Cr O'Keefe said the mobile barbecue would continue its vigil "for as long as it takes" aiming to bring neighbourhoods together and encouraging people to keep an eye out for one another.

That was the case on Friday afternoon when the barbecue fired up for its first outing of the year in Ramsey Cres, dishing out delicious food as well as important messages to parents about taking ownership of their communities.

The "humble Kiwi barbecued sausage" was used to bring people out of their homes on Ramsey Crescent, Cr O'Keefe said, where last year there had been an episode of bullying reported to police.

He said it was important to revisit areas the barbecue had been in previous years to ensure communities were finding ways to improve.

"Everyone turned out in numbers, especially the parents which was important because they are the ones we want to get the message to, to take better care of one another.

"We want to rejuvenate and encourage people to take ownership of themselves and not wait for the answer to their problems to come from central or local government."

Mr O'Keefe said he was happy with the response from the community barbecue's first visit of the year. Police and other government agencies were also there to help run Tunu Tunu and talk to people from the community.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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