Wairoa Mayor Craig Little is vowing to keep-up the fight for increased and round-the-clock policing in the town after the reversal of a plan for 24/7 for coverage of what is one of the remotest towns of such a size in New Zealand.
Confirmation of the change to a plan announced by the National government early in the last months of its 2008-2017 reign has come from now Opposition National Party MP Chris Bishop.
He said the new Labour-led coalition has scrapped plans to upgrade 20 station to 24/7 coverage, and abandoned what had been National's target of ensuring 95 per cent of New Zealanders are within 25km of a 24/7 police base.
Wairoa and Central/Southern Hawke's Bay will go on "24/7 Demand", meaning 24/7 manning will be used in times of need.
"I've heard a bit of a rumour," said Little, who understands there are some difficulties in filling Wairoa policing positions.
"It's really disappointing," he said. "It's nothing against the police in Wairoa at all. The police who are here are doing a great jobs, but I understand they have been four-down lately, some staff have left, and staff have been doing double shifts. They'd don't deserve that."
Wairoa's need is highlighted by its remoteness (98km from its area police headquarters in
Gisborne, and 118km from the district headquarters in Napier), the number of people (district population of just under 4300 in this year's Census), and what Little understands are increasing numbers of burglaries and other serious offences.
He's been in the "ear" of Police Minister and "local" MP Stuart Nash in the past and he plans doing so again. "This needs to be fixed," he said.
The reversal also affects central and southern Hawke's Bay, where the National plan had also included a joint 24/7 base for Waipukurau/Dannevirke.
As it happens, Waipukurau has not been manned 24/7 in at least 40 years, according to inquiries made by media and reaffirmed by police Hawke's Bay area commander Inspector Dave Greig who said: "Certainly not in my 28 years in Police."
CHB staff are working until 11pm each night, and later Thursday to Saturday, and staff are on-call at other times, while video technology is being trialled at the station in the hope of extending the counter operating hours, currently 9am-1pm.
Nash, however, refutes claims by Opposition National MP for that area, Alastair Scott, that the reversal will reduce the areas' police capability, saying that if anything policing will improve because officers will be active and on the road, and there will be more of them as the Government's increased police number targets are met.
He said it's not his job to tell police management how to deploy resources, but if they believed the resources were better used having officers on patrol rather than at desks he was confident they were making the right decisions.