Kaitaia strikes back over 'murder capital' label

By Mikaela Collins -
Naomi Austen-Reid created the social media campaign #ILoveKaitaia after becoming fed up with  the bad press her home town was getting.
Naomi Austen-Reid created the social media campaign #ILoveKaitaia after becoming fed up with the bad press her home town was getting.

Naomi Austen-Reid is proud to call Kaitaia home so, when she saw the Far North town getting a bad rap, she wanted people to focus on the positives.

The mother-of-two decided to start a social-media campaign called #ILoveKaitaia because she was "sick of the bad name" Kaitaia had been given.

There have been four homicide investigations in the Far North this year and, with three of those in Kaitaia, the town had been labelled the murder capital of New Zealand.

The most recent homicide investigation was launched after a man died when he was allegedly stabbed at an address north of Te Kao last Thursday night.

"I was just sick of the bad name Kaitaia was getting recently," said Austen-Reid.

"On the Friday I woke up and the night before they had a story about the local fire [brigade] being abused while on calls and I thought 'yay more bad news' and then there was the story about the murder [in Te Kao]."

Austen-Reid wanted people to talk about the positives so posted a photo on Facebook of herself holding a sign with #ILoveKaitaia on it.

She encouraged people to share reasons why they loved the Far North town using the hashtag. That post now has 232 likes and 371 shares on Facebook.

"I was concerned for the kids. If you tell a child they're naughty, they will carry on being naughty. I didn't want kids to see [the news] and think that's all Kaitaia was," she said.

Austen-Reid said despite having the opportunity to leave her home town, she never has, because she loved it.

"It's the access to the beaches, the nice sense of community spirit, all of that. Our schools, they get a bad reputation, but we have some good schools. It's good and bad but [I like] that everyone knows everyone's business."

Those who shared the hashtag listed things like the beaches, food, fishing, the proactive youth and the people as reasons they loved Kaitaia. Many were proud to call it home.

"It makes me feel good that people are being positive. It's not about denying we have problems but looking at where to from now," she said.

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