A gathering of close to a hundred angry Whatuwhiwhi residents on Monday evening had a clear message for three of their own — they've had a "gutsful" of their behaviour, and are not prepared to take it any more.
The meeting was called by Thomson Lawrence after an incident on Sunday, which began when a number of residents confronted a local man whose dangerous driving had once again given rise to concerns for people's safety.
At around 4.30 that afternoon another man arrived at an address and confronted the occupants, witnesses claiming he had tried to run over a number of people, rammed a woman's car and assaulted a man with an iron bar.
(A 49-year-old man will appear before the Kaitaia District Court tomorrow on two charges of assault with a weapon and one of dangerous driving).
The incident was not an isolated one, Mr Lawrence said. The community was sick and tired of three individuals, all locals, who routinely drove with no regard for the safety of others and intimidated their fellow residents.
"Don't be intimidated," he said.
"Laugh at them. That pisses them off. It might be harder for some than others to stand up to them, but we have to do something.
"Once they know you're scared of them they've got you where they want you."
He accepted that many people were frightened, and that some were thinking of moving.
"If you do that they've won," he said, "and it might be just as bad somewhere else."
Several people noted that the police had not been able to deal with the problem effectively, but Mr Lawrence wasn't criticising them. They were busy, he said, and while many of the incidents they had to deal with were "bullshit," they had no choice but to respond.
The police had advised some residents not to get involved, but it was agreed that it was up to the community to do something, and there was no shortage of volunteers.
It was agreed to set up a telephone register so people could be alerted in numbers in the event of further incidents — Lucy Turoa-Hack said Haititaimarangai Marae was already doing that — while a number of residents said they would call on the man who was arrested on Sunday. If that didn't have the desired effect the community would "take matters into its own hands."
Suggestions included putting pressure on the offenders' families, to "make it their problem." The uncle of one of the offenders was amenable to that. He apologised on behalf of his whānau, and asked for advice as to what he should do.
The suggestion that pressure should be put on the arrested man's landlord was discounted, given that his only concern appeared to be that his tenant paid the rent.
There was support for expelling the offenders from the peninsula though, given at least one of them was widely regarded as a methamphetamine dealer. The police, a woman said, needed hard evidence of that, but "no one dobs in their dealer."
The final piece of advice was that residents should get to know their neighbours.
"That's something we can all do," the man said.
"Don't close your curtains. Let your neighbours know that you've got their back. Let them know that we're all standing together."
■Anyone who would like to join the marae's telephone register can contact Ms Turoa-Hack on (021) 129-8064.