Rob Kidd

Rob Kidd is a NZME. News Service court reporter based in Auckland.

Window washers attack Auckland Council crackdown

Brush wielders say they’ll carry on. ‘What do they want us to do? Go start robbing people?’

Window washers (clockwise from bottom left) Jordan Rua, Conrad Luaao, Tame, Shane Rore, Fuataina Laumua and Reuben Tialata at the intersection of Ash St and Rosebank Rd in Avondale. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Window washers (clockwise from bottom left) Jordan Rua, Conrad Luaao, Tame, Shane Rore, Fuataina Laumua and Reuben Tialata at the intersection of Ash St and Rosebank Rd in Avondale. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Intersection windscreen washers say a police and council crackdown won't force them to ditch their brushes and bottles.

An Auckland Council bylaw prohibiting window washing and other "offensive behaviour" was introduced at the end of May.

The first wave of those charged by the police is now moving through the court system.

While police say the issue is one of "community safety" and the council says nipping it in the bud may restrict more serious offending, those who spend their time waiting by traffic lights plan to continue.

Although only a handful of defendants have been charged by police, one West Auckland man now faces two charges after being arrested in both June and July.

Fuataina Laumua, 20, is alleged to have "washed or offered to wash a vehicle or any part thereof in a manner that may have caused an obstruction to traffic".

When spoken to at his Glen Eden home, he and other windscreen washers hit back at lawmakers.

One of the youngest of a group of more than a dozen who man intersections in West Auckland to make money, Laumua said he had been washing windows for about two years.

"We're only trying to make a living ... I'll carry on," he said.

Experienced washer Shane Rore said he and his mates went out of their way not to intimidate road users, even when they were desperate for cash.

"What are you supposed to do when Work and Income doesn't cover it?

"What do they want us to do? Go start robbing people?" he said.

Mr Rore said that for many people on the streets, that would be the only alternative to washing windows. He rejected the claim that the washing work was dangerous.

"They say we're at risk of being hurt, but we minimise that by buying hi-vis [vests]."

Mr Rore also disputed perceptions that washers were drug addicts trying to get money.

"The benefit isn't much. You're left with bugger all at the end of the week," he said. "The aim is to get a feed and get through the day.

"Half of us have got kids - their families are sitting in the car waiting."

Father of five Andrew Corey said his sole motivation was providing for himself and his children but added that having a criminal record made it difficult to get a job.

"As soon as I make my money, I take it home for my daughter."

The tightened rules would not stop him washing. Mr Rore said the number of people doing it was increasing.

An Auckland Council spokeswoman said there had been very few examples of "public nuisance" since the bylaw's inception, which she primarily put down to the weather.

A police spokeswoman said charges were a last resort, and followed initial roadside warnings.

The council bylaw refers to "nuisances, safety and behaviour such as obstructing use of a public space, the use of mind-altering substances, window washing and begging in a way that may intimidate others".

Washing hotspots
• Great South Rd and Green Lane West (Greenlane)
• Waipuna Rd and Mt Wellington Highway (Mt Wellington)
• Great North Rd and Rata St (New Lynn)
• Cavendish Drive and Great South Rd (Manukau).

nzherald.co.nz
For previous stories on this issue, go to: tinyurl.com/windowwashers.

- NZ Herald

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