Breaking the silence
By Joanna Davies
Wayne Davis walks around New Lynn town centre wearing a black and red jacket. Embroidered on the badge is Waitakere Asian Support Group and he wants his presence here to help make the centre more welcoming for Asian people.
"My wife is Chinese, and we have family friends who have been the targets of crime and threats," he says.
"We know Asian people who have had their bags snatched and their cars broken into, and they don't tend to report problems to police."
But, with an Asian population of 61 per cent in New Lynn, Mr Davis says crime against the community must go unreported no longer, and his group is working with the police and Auckland Council to make the centre safer.
"We want to have more crime-prevention strategies and stronger neighbourhood support groups," he says. "A lot of people in the Chinese community think 111 is only for very big emergencies, and they don't report things like bag snatching or break-ins. "Last year we organised an open day in Ambrico Place, which has a large Asian population, and a lot of people signed up for Neighbourhood Support.
"We want to organise more days like these."
In the next month, the group will launch a six-month pilot scheme called Tuan Jie-Unity to prevent crime.
"We would also like to organise a programme like the Maori and Pacific Wardens for the Asian community," says Mr Davis.
Peter Chan, a former Waitakere City councillor who helped establish the group, says many Asians don't ask for help unless it is a last resort.
"I know one family who had their bags snatched out of a car as they were pulling out of a driveway," he says.
"Quite a lot of the Chinese population here are elderly and can't speak much English, and they are hesitant to call the police."
Waitemata District Police spokesman Kevin Loughlin says a big issue is the language barrier.
"We are working to make sure the community is comfortable reporting crime, because some people have come from an environment where there has been a suspicion of police," he says.
"We did attend a community day which was very successful and we want to focus on the visibility of police."
Whau Local Board chair Derek Battersby is pleased the campaign is being planned.
"We have a large Asian population in the Whau ward and it is very important that we provide safety for them.
They have the right to enjoy New Lynn just like everyone else."
More details of the Tuan Jie-Unity project will be available next month when it is launched.
Whau is me
The Whau ward includes New Lynn, Kelston, Avondale, New Windsor, Blockhouse Bay and Green Bay. Asian people make up 31.5 per cent of the population, the second-largest ethnic group in the ward. Europeans make up 44.3 per cent of residents, 9 per cent are Maori and 17.9 per cent are Pacific.