Attack on town custodian shocks Paihia community

A ”vicious attack” on Paihia’s town custodian has shocked and appalled residents in the Bay of Islands tourist town.

The custodian, who is employed by Focus Paihia community trust, was allegedly assaulted, robbed of his phone, wallet and work gear, dragged from his car, and left on the roadside as the offenders took off with his vehicle.

The incident occurred outside the beachfront kayak hire shop on Marsden Rd, opposite Alfresco’s restaurant, about 3.30am today.

It seems unlikely the perpetrators will be free for long, however.

The town’s newly upgraded CCTV system — another Focus Paihia project — captured clear images earlier in the night of the men allegedly involved.

The custodian’s station-wagon was found dumped on North Rd, Kawakawa, minus wheels and licence plates, about 10am today.

Former Treaty Grounds cultural manager Mori Rapana, who now has a senior role at the Far North District Council, took to social media this morning to call for information about the ”vicious attack” on his 70-year-old father, Henare Rapana.

Mori Rapana said he grappled with posting about the incident on social media because he didn’t want to tarnish the town.

”However, I can’t let this slide. I want these guys caught and brought to justice. These sick @#%$ need to be caught. This is a 70-year-old harmless man,” he wrote.

His father was well known in Paihia for his work keeping the town in immaculate condition, Rapana said.

The post was widely shared and paid off within hours when ”some eagle-eyed whānau” spotted the stolen vehicle in Kawakawa.

Rapana said the alleged offenders had been identified from CCTV footage.

”From here we will let the authorities undertake their processes and see these people brought to justice.”

Rapana said he had been humbled by the “overwhelming and beautiful” outpouring of support and aroha for his father today.

Focus Paihia chairman Grant Harnish said the town had rallied around the custodian after the early morning attack.

”He’s a special guy, he gives so much to Paihia as the town custodian. To be treated like this is truly appalling.”

Focus Paihia, and the wider community, would do everything they could to make sure those responsible were held to account, he said

It wasn’t the first time the town’s new CCTV system had proved invaluable for identifying offenders, he said.

Focus Paihia trustee Gary Lucas was instrumental in getting the town’s upgraded CCTV system up and running, in conjunction with police and Kerikeri Community Patrol.

Live monitoring had been operating earlier that night, he said.

When Lucas was alerted to the assault he was able to link footage of people captured earlier in the evening to the incident on Marsden Rd at 3.37am.

The information had been passed on to police.

”The CCTV footage is very, very clear,” Lucas said.

Paihia residents told the Advocate there had been an escalation of trouble in the town in the past eight weeks, much of it linked to a Kings Rd premises used for emergency accommodation.

However, the assault on the town custodian is not thought to be linked to Kings Rd residents, but a separate group not based in Paihia.

Source: Read Full Article