Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Mild weather draws rough sleepers

Complaints to police rise as homeless from all over NZ head to Auckland.
In West Auckland, the Auckland Council had called in police to help with rough sleepers at the New Lynn Community Centre. Photo / Dean Purcell
In West Auckland, the Auckland Council had called in police to help with rough sleepers at the New Lynn Community Centre. Photo / Dean Purcell

Mild weather has brought rough sleepers from all over New Zealand to Auckland, police say.

And the presence of extra homeless people has resulted in more complaints about beggars, Auckland central police crime prevention leader Sergeant Roy Simpson said.

"If you've got a larger number of people in the city ... then obviously the number of complaints to police do go up," Mr Simpson said.

In West Auckland, the Auckland Council had called in police to help with rough sleepers at the New Lynn Community Centre.

Night market co-ordinator Bevan Chuang, who runs a Thursday market at the centre, said rough sleepers had put cleaners on edge. "They sneak into the centre while the cleaners are in the building, and remain in there for the night," Ms Chuang said.

Council community places manager Kevin Marriot said police had been contacted in the past to help address "anti-social behaviour".

Mr Marriot said rough sleepers were also spending time at the Pt Chevalier Community Centre.

In the central business district homeless beggars seeking food, cash and cigarettes have been targeting mainly Asian shoppers and diners.

Five got trespass notices from Esquires cafe on Courthouse Lane on Friday for aggressive begging. Another was arrested last month for disorderly behaviour after ashtrays and sugar-holders were thrown and a male staff member was attacked.

Several businesses at Chancery Square also blamed beggars for break-ins, theft and harassment.

A Chinese international student has also said her late-model iPhone was stolen by a beggar after he asked to use it to make an emergency call.

Mr Simpson said most of the complaints about rough sleepers related to aggressive begging and theft.

"There are issues with regards to homeless people who are begging and taking money from people. A minority are on drugs and alcohol, which makes it worse," he said.

But the overall numbers of opportunist crimes had not increased and the level this year was no different from previous years, he said.

Although homeless people were blamed "an awful lot" for offending in the city, Mr Simpson said they were not always at fault. He urged people to be mindful that there were opportunist thieves out there and for all victims to make police reports.

"It's not just Auckland City, it's any city in the world at the moment, unfortunately. There are opportunist thieves who will take property if people don't keep an eye on it.

"If you are a victim of crime, make sure you report it; we need to know about it. If we don't know about it ... we're not going to be able to get staff down there to address the issues."

Unusual autumnal warmth holding until weekend

Our warm summer has become a warm autumn, with above-average temperatures around the country this month.

Midway through autumn, much of New Zealand is enjoying mild, sunny school holiday weather, and MetService communications meteorologist Lisa Murray said that was expected to continue until the weekend.

A cool front from the southwest will spoil the party when it arrives over the South Island on Saturday, before sweeping across the North Island the following day.

"It will bring some cool temperatures and occasional rain for some. Everyone should get a shower, but we'll know more closer to the time."

It was not unknown for April to be mild, Ms Murray said. "We do get times where we get a high over us at this time of year, so I wouldn't say this kind of weather is unknown. What's unusual is we are seeing more highs than usual."

She added: "We've got a ridge of high pressure over us and it's there the next few days so it'll be quite settled weather. We are getting warm temperatures for this time of year and April is on target to be warmer than average."

All the main centres had recorded temperatures above the long-term mean. Dunedin had the biggest increase, with the mean April temperature 12.7C, up from 10.3C.

Tauranga had a mean monthly temperature of 17C, compared with the long-term mean of 15.5C. In Auckland that figure was 17.2C, a degree above the long-term mean. Auckland's highest temperature during the month was 26C on April 2.

- NZ Herald

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