Finding solutions to a "drug with no boundaries ... eating our people" brought 100 Tauranga people to a P hui at Maungatapu Marae on Thursday evening.

MC Reon Tuanau of Te Runanga O Ngai Te Rangi Iwi Trust noted the variety of ages, genders and socio-economic classes among those attending,

"Just looking around here you can see it is a drug with no boundaries. It is affecting everyone in our community, rich, poor, young, old, parents, kids. It is eating our people, eating our culture, and destroying our whanau."

It is eating our people, eating our culture, and destroying our whanau.

Glen Shee, an addiction worker with Ngai Te Rangi's Peaceful Warrior programme, works with young people up to age 26 affected by methamphetamine.


Shee was concerned by meth's increasing grip on the young in the community.

"Meth is easily accessible, and we know that young people are being actively targeted, because then when they are hooked, the dealers have another customer."

Shee should know. He was addicted to methamphetamine on and off since he was 26. Now, at 45 years old and clean for eight years, he turned from a life of violence and crime to go to university and now works with young people struggling on a similar journey to his own.

"I know the dark places meth takes you only too well."

One of those people Shee has met is 32-year-old Gate Pa man Damien Anderson who has been clean for eight months.

"It's early days ... but it's time to stand up. I am doing this for my tamariki. The more people who do stand up like people here today, whether they have an addiction themselves or a family member, then the hold this drug has in the community is weakened."

The event was organised by Ngai Te Rangi and local charity Brave Hearts, which holds regular meetings for families of people addicted to methamphetamine.

Bay mother Erin Scarlett O'Neill who started Brave Hearts after her son was addicted to P for 10 years, said she was "inundated " with people seeking help.

"People are at breaking point, not knowing where to turn. After the meeting, a mother contacted me about her son. He is in his late 50s, a formerly very successful person in the community. He went through a rough patch in his life, tried methamphetamine and now addicted, he has lost everything and is about to face life on the streets."

Ms O'Neill said there was no easy solution but was determined to continue the work in the community to raise awareness and guide families where she could.

Also at the meeting were local health organisations such as the Bay of Plenty District Health Board's Sorted, Bay of Plenty Addictions, and Get Smart organisation, all of them having given their own time, said Ms O'Neill.

"What is positive is that there are so many in our community who want to do something about this. But the big thing is resources. So what do we do?"