A former gang member and a reformed criminal - Adrian Pritchard had devoted his days to helping troubled youth.

But the stress of the job got too much and he slipped into a familiar pattern of addiction.

"I went back to blasting crap up my veins again," Mr Pritchard says.

When he was younger heroin and cocaine had been his preferred poison.


But this time - it was methamphetamine.

"I was working with certain people and I was helping them and they were giving me bags and they were giving me shots as a thank you gift."

He's now two months clean.

But Mr Pritchard says his story exposes a grisly reality - he believes dealers are using some day programmes and methamphetamine hui to pick up clients.

"Dealers are not stupid," he says, "they are searching the crowd for who they can attach themselves to so they can either get them trained up to be the next cook or 'hey bro can you deliver some stuff for me' ".

It is a claim New Zealand Drug Foundation Executive Director Ross Bell denies.

Mr Bell says the kinds of people attending the meetings are grandparents and those who are desperately seeking help for their loved ones.

He says provincial New Zealand is missing out on services and the $150 million the Government currently allocates to the drug and alcohol sector needs to be doubled to address that.


Mr Pritchard isn't against methamphetamine hui but wants the Government to invest in different options - like time-out spaces.

He believes that would be a better use of the money currently earmarked for a new prison, and he's not alone in that belief.

Denis O'Reilly of Mōkai Whānau Ora says, "we definitely need stuff in the non-clinical area which would help someone sort out what they need to go on to."

He says this will reduce the current system's lag time, and he's calling on the goodwill of communities to help make it happen.

Rather than a formal setting, Mr O'Reilly is seeking discreet venues.

"Maybe it could be a marae based thing or a cluster of families or a church organisation who's got a space, who's got a number of volunteers who can keep people safe and dry."


Mr O'Reilly says opening up informal spaces for affected communities will provide another avenue for users and alleviate some of the pressure being put on the clinical system.

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