John Weekes is an NZME News Service reporter based in Wellington.

Help needed in city prostitution hotspot

Locals say the sex workers on Hunters Corner are holding them to ransom. Photo / Jason Dorday
Locals say the sex workers on Hunters Corner are holding them to ransom. Photo / Jason Dorday

An intermediate school pupil selling himself for sex and a boarding house allegedly playing host to hookers have the residents of a notorious prostitution hotspot in Auckland city pleading for help.

In Hunters Corner, Papatoetoe, security officer Mou Fameitau on Monday night saw a fa'afafine - males who behave as females - no older than 13 prostituting himself, dressed in the uniform of a local intermediate school.

"He works there," Fameitau said. "We caught him during the day. He recognised me and ran off into an alleyway."

Fameitau, hired by the Hunters Corner Town Centre Society, counted 27 street workers on Monday. Half were women, the others fa'afafine.

Some locals said the situation was escalating. As many as 40 prostitutes were now working in the area on busy nights.

Auckland councillor George Wood said prostitutes had now moved into a boarding house on Kolmar Rd.

John McCracken, chair of Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board, said Kolmar House was formerly a halfway house for intellectually challenged patients.

"It's now essentially a free-for-all boarding house."

Local politician and businesswoman Donna Lee planned to find out how much the street sex trade was costing businesses.

They said streets were strewn with used condoms, litter and human waste, although some prostitutes said hostile members of the public who pelted them with missiles were responsible for the garbage.

McCracken said the solution was simple. "Give Auckland Council the real ability to create a bylaw that prohibits soliciting in specific areas."

A bill allowing that is now in the hands of Manukau East MP Ross Robertson.

He was "very supportive" of it but politicians were seeking legal advice from Crown Law. "It's out of my hands. The last thing I heard they were getting a legal opinion on the bill."

A select committee is due to report back in November.

Meanwhile, locals continue to wait.

"I guess we're sick to death of it really," local businessman Pat Taylor said.

Local residents, including pensioners at an apartment block, were living in fear. "I can't go outside after 6 o'clock," Bijai Chand said.

Wood wanted action: "Quite frankly, a community is being held to ransom."

- Herald on Sunday

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