Opotiki hui first step in long term plan

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Something positive has come from social media, according to the facilitator of a community hui held in Opotiki last night.

The hui was called early this week following an aggravated robbery at the St John Street Caltex, which probed rising concern among residents about their safety and security in the town.

About two hundred dollars was taken during the robbery, after four offenders walked into the store and threatened a sole staff member with weapons, before leaving with the money.

In a media statement released on Tuesday Police said two alleged youth offenders had been apprehended, while two others were still being sought.

Meanwhile many residents took to social media in the wake of the incident to voice their anxieties, saying the event was just among a wave of rising criminal activity in the town.

Facilitator Maude Maxwell said some of the comments online called for certain members in the community to step up and take action - namely Maori wardens and police.

She said many residents were unclear around the roles of each of the groups, but had big expectations of them and wanted to host the hui so residents could gain this clarity.

Maude said she's pleased with how the hui has gone.

"The purpose of the meeting was to bring in the people and say the solution needs to be community driven.

"The community has heard it's not just the responsibility of certain groups or one single person, but the whole community. That's what we wanted.

“And the community have spoken just by turning up. What that means is people have had enough of what's happening.

"We've created opportunities from this hui and there are certainly follow up paths."

One of these includes establishing a neighbourhood support network and a case for getting a community patrol car in the town is also being prepared.

Maude said there's also work being done to find more services and support for youth in the community.

She said the hui is not the end of the work to be done and expects more hui to be held over the next few months.

"People have had enough. It's time to drive a plan that will keep us all safe - and not just in the township but in rural areas too."

Sam Gardner