Two Auckland-based taxi drivers claim they have been subjected to bullying, racist remarks and had their tyres slashed by local drivers while working on Waiheke Island.
Waiheke Island-based companies Island Taxis and Waiheke Five-O say there's been a recent spike in the numbers of "pirate" Auckland drivers bringing their cars over on the ferry and poaching business off them at weekends.
Island Taxis driver Richard Cannon told the Herald seven or eight drivers had been "clogging up the rank" at the Matiatia Wharf ferry terminal and poaching "about a third" of local drivers' income. He said the intruders were also pretending to live on the island and use that to their advantage.
But a small Auckland-based taxi driver, who was too fearful to be identified, told the Herald that was not the case at all.
He claimed he had been the victim of bullying, racism and was scared he would be physically harmed on the job. He refused to detail the extent of what he had been subjected to out of fear of being targeted further.
The driver defended his knowledge of the island, despite not living on it, saying he knew "very well" where the visitor hotspots were.
Another driver, based in Auckland and who also feared being named, said she too had endured bullying and copped verbal abuse from island taxi drivers.
"I've had tyres slashed, tyres let down, notes written to me, abuse yelled at me, bullying ... that type of thing," she said.
The woman has laid a police complaint relating to damage done to her vehicle, which the police have confirmed they received but were not currently investigating.
She said the incidents had died down recently but that it had all started immediately after the Government brought in sweeping changes to the taxi industry in October last year, effectively levelling the playing field for taxis and ubers.
She said there was a huge demand for business on Waiheke Island that was not being met and a driver shortage over the busy periods.
The driver also defended her prices, describing them as "not cheap but not dear".
Island Taxis confirmed they had for some time been bringing in five Auckland-based taxi drivers to work on the island but said half of their earnings were handed back to the company and injected into the community.
Richard Cannon said that compared to "all of it" going off the island with the "pirate" drivers.
Simon Nolan, who manages Waiheke Five-O, agreed with Cannon, saying in a few cases, some intruder drivers were impersonating local operators and "stealing" their well-earned business.
Nolan said he had had customers who were meant to be theirs complain to them about "ridiculous" fares. He referred to one case of a customer being charged $37 to get from the terminal to the popular Cable Bay winery, which was two kilometres away. That service, he said, was usually about $10.
Richard Cannon said he and others had tried telling the drivers to "go away nicely" but had failed.
"They're not technically breaking any laws."
He estimated he was losing about a third of his income to the imposters.
Waiheke local board member Shirin Brown who was also fuming, met with local taxi drivers on Wednesday afternoon to discuss what to do next, if anything.
She earlier told the Herald that it was a tricky situation and difficult to define who was a local.