Kaikohe head girl: locally-led approach best

One of the most forthright, sensible and mature responses to the problems in Kaikohe come from Northland College head girl Aroha Lawrence who said ‘When you’re from Kaikohe people don’t expect much’ (RNZ):

…she knew some of the young people involved at the weekend.

Some came from good homes while others came from broken homes, but they were united in that they had all grown up in Kaikohe and had to deal with any stigma that came with that.

“When you’re from Kaikohe people don’t expect much of you, so you don’t have really big expectations for yourself,” Miss Lawrence said.

“People just think you’re another Māori statistic that’s just going to go on the dole.”

It did not help that there was not much to do in the town, she said.

“A lot of the kids here, they just go hang out at The Mill, which is our local gym. Or just do what those young boys were doing – going around vandalising properties and robbing shops and robbing homes. Because, I don’t know, I guess they think that’s fun because there’s nothing really else to do in Kaikohe.”

Something needed to change but a locally-led approach was best, she said.

However, the same things happened in other towns and cities too and it was important to remember there were a lot of good young people in Kaikohe too, Miss Lawrence said.

“There’s a lot of us that are trying to, you know, make something better for ourselves or make something better for Kaikohe. They shouldn’t judge us by a few rotten eggs.”

There has always been problems with bored young people in rural towns. Kaikohe is in central Northland and has a population of about four and a half thousand.

While Government and Police can and should help the best solutions must come from the locals. It’s their town that their children are trashing.

Alcohol abuse seems to be a big part of the problem. That’s nothing new, but solutions may need to take new approaches.