Tess Nichol is an NZME. News Service reporter.

KFC brawl: 'They've got nothing else to do' - community leader

Police detain a suspect following a brawl at the Mangere branch at KFC. Photo / Facebook
Police detain a suspect following a brawl at the Mangere branch at KFC. Photo / Facebook

Locals are describing a mass brawl in South Auckland as a one-off incident, but one which has a negative impact on the area's reputation.

About 80 students from at least two nearby schools were involved in the fight, which started in Walter Massey Park in Mangere East before moving down Massey Rd and spilling into a KFC restaurant.

It is understood weapons such as knives and shanks were used, and four people were arrested.

A community leader in South Auckland says fights like yesterday afternoon's mass brawl will continue until the council starts giving the funding to create facilities in the area.

Mangere East community centre director Roger Fowler criticised the "dearth" of facilities like skate parks, swimming pools or drop in centres in the area, saying tensions were bound to bubble over when kids were bored.

"Not having those sorts of facilities leaves a vacuum and if kids have got nothing else to do ... that causes or exacerbates social problems," he said.

"It's all very well telling young kids to go home but if that home is a damp and cramped garage, which it often is, all of these things add up to an environment which is not conducive to good social behavior."

Mangere, an already huge community which was rapidly growing, did not appear to be a priority for the council, Fowler said.

"We've got a big push on now for a decent modern community centre with a gymnasium, child care, classrooms, and other facilities.

"These sorts of incidences highlight the need for these facilities which are sorely lacking and have been for some time."

The local board was supportive of providing such facilities, he said, but lacked the funding from Auckland Council.

"We'd like to see the Auckland Council release decent funding to the local board so projects of this nature and community projects generally can be expanded to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population."

Auckland Council chief operating officer Dean Kimpton refuted Fowler's claims, saying there are a "significant" number of "facilities, projects and opportunities" for youth in Mangere.

"Much of the council's role is led through the Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board, which supports groups and organisations focused on boosting education and employment opportunities for youth. The board provides youth a voice and an opportunity to be active in local matters."

Kimpton said the suburb's arts centre, pool and library were popular with young people.

"There are also several parks in the area, a number of which have facilities for youth. Examples include the Walter Massey Park exercise equipment, a skate park at Mangere Bridge, and basketball courts opposite the town centre in David Lange Park," Kimpton said.

"A recent initiative at the library is the "teen club" which met for the first time on Monday. This initiative involves teenagers acting in the role of the library manager and designing programmes relevant to young people. Ideas include homework stations, music jams, quiz nights, iPad access and places to socialise. The next step is to advance these initiatives. The library also actively visits local schools, offering a book club and promoting literacy."

There is a also a significant number of local community and the Māngere Community House had a particular emphasis on youth-focused programmes and activities, including school holiday programmes and the BikeFIT programme, Kimpton said.

"We are always looking for ways to support the community and continue to work closely with, and support, many community partners and organisations to support youth and community outcomes."

- NZ Herald

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