Key comes under attack from young and old at housing project

By Patrick O'Sullivan

Mr Key said they were idle, mindless acts. Photo / NZ Herald
Mr Key said they were idle, mindless acts. Photo / NZ Herald

A rock and a ball were thrown at Prime Minister John Key's limousine in the Napier suburb of Maraenui yesterday.

Police arrested a 22-year-old Napier man following the incident and charged him with disorderly behaviour.

Mr Key was forced to stand by while children chanted anti-government slogans to his face and an egg was thrown at his car.

Mr Key said they were idle, mindless acts.

"These kids were about 10 or 12 and were saying things they didn't understand," he said.

"It's the school holidays so I suppose it is something to do."

Mr Key's visit to the Housing New Zealand redevelopment was greeted by a group of 10 adult protesters with about 25 children in support chanting: "One, two, three, four, stop the war on the poor," and "Maraenui under attack, stand up, fight back". A police line prevented the group crossing the road to where Mr Key entered the new housing block.

Placards and comments shouted by veteran protester Chantelle Brown covered child poverty, legal highs and the forced relocation of Housing New Zealand tenants for government state housing changes.

The redevelopment removed a two-level multi-home building and replaced it with seven two-bedroom units for elderly people and a shared green space.

"I grew up in a state house and it didn't look anything like this — this is beautiful," Mr Key said.

New resident, 72-year-old Crete Pinkham, said it was a world apart from her former home in nearby Geddes Ave. "It was cold and damp and full of mould — we couldn't get rid of it," she said. Her grandsons, one previously wearing a Mongrel Mob patch, performed a haka for the Prime Minister before he left through the property.

At Ms Pinkham's back gate Mr Key had to wait for two or three minutes until his limousine arrived. A crowd of children congregated, including older ones carrying Mana Party flags.

The older children resumed the "stop the war on the poor" chant and the younger ones joined in.

Mr Key got into his car, which left sporting an egg on the windscreen.

Police were seen arresting a man who had been holding a young child.

- APN

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