Marchers in an anti-P hikoi from Cape Reinga to Waitangi say they succeeded in raising awareness about the drug's devastating effect on Northland - and where people can go for help.
More than 500 people took part in the final stage of the hikoi yesterday from the campground next to Te Tii Marae to the Treaty Grounds, where they were given a rousing welcome at Te Whare Runanga (the carved meeting house).
A day earlier about 50 people arrived at Waitangi after a five-day walk from Cape Reinga, with more joining in each time the hikoi passed through towns on the way.
While past hikoi have focused on environmental or land issues, this year's called on Government and iwi leaders to do more to combat methamphetamine, also known as P.
The hikoi was also unusual in that it had wholehearted backing from the police, and some of the marchers called on the Government to boost police numbers so they were better able to fight the class A drug.
Carrying flags and banners, the marchers chanted "No more P, it destroys out families" and "Reach out, ask for help". They also demanded dealers get out of Northland.
Hikoi leader Reti Boynton, of Kaitaia, said in parts of Northland it was easier to find P than it was to get cannabis, and addicts had to wait three to six months to get into rehab. By then it was often too late.
The drug made people aggressive and willing to sell anything to get it, he said.
"It turns women into prostitutes, men into thieves, and takes food out of cupboards. And what is the Government doing about it? Nothing."
Within 24 hours of the hikoi passing through Kaitaia the group had 28,000 hits on a Facebook post promoting an 0800 number offering help with meth addiction.
People were afraid to speak out because of the violence associated with the P trade, Mr Boynton said.
Groups represented on the hikoi included Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, with member Te Clark saying she wanted to let people know "how far the P scourge extends into whanau". Last year parental P use was the single biggest reason why grandparents had to take over care of their grandchildren.
Marcher, Billa Graham of Kaitaia, said towns along the way showed great support but the standout was Kawakawa.
"We had shopkeepers coming out of their shops, people beeping their horns, and a group did a haka for us, which was awesome," he said.
Far North police acting commander Riki Whiu said police "absolutely supported" any community-led initiative against methamphetamine.
"We can't afford to take our foot off this ngangara [demon]," he said.
■ Call the meth helpline on 0800 787 797.