Walkway focus of 8 cameras
Nearly the entire Hatea Loop walkway will be under CCTV surveillance within two months after a violent attack on a female jogger.
Eight new cameras would be installed along the Riverside side of the walk - four on Pohe Island, one in Riverside Drive Reserve and two on the newly opened section of walkway running behind the light industrial businesses on Riverside Drive.
The cameras would complement the installation of lighting on Pohe Island, which Whangarei District Council rushed to finalise after the woman in her early-20s was dragged off the walkway at about 6.30am on April 29.
She was taken to a Whangarei address and sexually assaulted, before being dumped, seriously injured, in central Whangarei.
Councillors had brought forward $200,000 of work from 2017/18 into the 2016/17 Annual Plan - $100,000 for the CCTV and $100,000 to supplement the $300,000 cost of the lighting.
Mayor Sheryl Mai said the need for cameras was a "sad indictment" in some ways, but anything which encouraged higher use was a positive.
"The more people you have, the more surveillance you have," she said.
Ms Mai regularly walked the Loop and had noticed a drop in the number of people using it in the days and weeks following the assault.
"But that's turned around. The only other observation is that we look out for a little more than we would have. It's not business as usual, but play as usual."
Lighting the Pohe Island side had previously struck a hitch because of an old dump site in the area releasing potentially explosive methane gas. The work-around was to fill lighting ducts with bentonite clay to prevent sparks.
WDC team leader major projects Marie-Katrin Richter said building the concrete foundations for 20 lights poles would begin Monday, with preliminary electrical work already under way.
Thirteen of the poles would contain twin lights, which would also illuminate the track's surrounds, rather than just the path itself.
Lights would be up and running by mid-August, as would the cameras.
Whangarei's CCTV network was monitored live by police-approved volunteers. Footage was also recorded.
WDC community services manager Owen Thomas said once the new Loop cameras were in, nearly all of the 4.2km walk would be under surveillance.
"The growth to the network means the hardware at the police station, where the cameras are monitored from, has to be altered as well," he said.
Community response to the attack included a march around the Loop attended by thousands who donated more than $4000 to the victim. Northern Districts Security also arranged for one of their guards to patrol the walkway periodically in the early morning and early evening gloom - an initiative which was ongoing. The young woman spent just over two weeks in hospital after the attack.
The 40-year-old man arrested the day of the assault remains in custody, to appear in court on July 28. He has interim name suppression and is charged with sexual violation, kidnapping with intent to have sexual intercourse and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.