Beggars are travelling from Hastings to cash in on the kindness of Napier's residents to fuel alcohol, drug and gambling habits.

Hawke's Bay police sergeant Nigel Hurley said there had previously been begging incidents in Hastings but the problem was predominately centred in Napier.

Mr Hurley said while most beggars in Napier were Napier residents, some Hastings residents were begging on Napier streets also.

It appeared Napier was the begging epicentre of Hawke's Bay and Mr Hurley said it was due to the generosity of the public.

"The people of Napier are very generous that's why ... the word has got around that people give good tips in Napier."

Mr Hurley said police had been issuing warnings to people seen with illegal substances or at gambling sites just days after begging on the streets.

The Napier suburb of Onekawa was one particualr area feeling the pressure from crowds of cadgers, commuting or local.

Business owners said they had enough of customers being harrassed for money.

Onekawa Pharmacy owner Andrew Spence said begging incidents had spiked in the past few months, forcing the business to make several calls to the police every day.

Pharmacist Andrew Spence says he has seen beggars coming and going in cars. Photo/Duncan Brown
Pharmacist Andrew Spence says he has seen beggars coming and going in cars. Photo/Duncan Brown

"All of the sudden these people just turned up and started going about their business," Mr Spence said.


"It has certainly caused a disruption to the shopping centre because of the aggression."

Beggars frequented the area in front of his pharmacy, often standing outside and approaching customers to ask for money that he believed was then spent on drugs.

"However, what we're seeing is when they get enough money they go straight to their local drug dealer - all they're after is their next buzz."

Mr Spence said cars sometimes visited the area to pick up and drop off beggars, who returned showing signs of drug use.

Salvation Army Napier corps officer major Alister Irwin said he believed the services available to those struggling to make ends meet in Hawke's Bay meant begging wasn't necessary.

"There are enough services available but, having said that, all services would also say that we could do better with more funding and personnel," he said.

"They are prying on the generosity of Napier people."

A sign in an Onekawa business discourages people from giving to beggars. Photo/Duncan Brown
A sign in an Onekawa business discourages people from giving to beggars. Photo/Duncan Brown

This week the council joined forces with several organisations to launch a campaign to discourage begging on the streets of Napier after receiving daily complaints about the issue, Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said.

Mr Dalton said the Napier City Council received complaints on a daily basis that often involved aggressive behaviour towards shopkeepers, people trying to move beggars along and staff around the city.

"Of course it's a safety issue in terms of aggression but it's also not a good look or feel to walk down the street and see people begging."

Mr Dalton said there was no question that the intentions of beggars were calculated and urged the public to put their money towards resources for those genuinely struggling to make ends meet.

"They tend to work in groups, sharing their proceeds and then proceeding to buy alcohol and drugs, and gambling," he said.

"Giving to beggars is, in essence, directly supporting drug use, aggression, and crime in our beautiful city."

Napier City Business Inc manager Zoe Barnes said she hoped the campaign would bring some welcome relief to retailers who were "exhausted" from regularly dealing with harassment in the CBD.


"We're grateful for the fresh focus on this issue and are very keen to help re-educate our community on the realities of begging. We understand how tempting it is to give a few dollars to people on the street, but there are far better ways to give, for good," she said.

"I would just like to see this cleaned up for the feel of the city," Mr Dalton said.