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Residents defend Crewe Cres

Manawatu Standard, 30 Jan 2010

Residents on Palmerston North's Crewe Cres have hit back at allegations their street has been overrun by out-of-control youths.

Mother-of-two Bridie Hughes and her former partner Murray Field, who have lived on Crewe Cres for about three years, told the Manawatu Standard this week that youths on the Hokowhitu street had subjected them to a campaign of threats, intimidation, theft and vandalism.

One of the allegations, involving a teenager threatening to cut off Miss Hughes' dog's head with a garden hoe, led to the arrest of 18-year-old Tevita Tovo.

He appeared in the Palmerston North District Court on Thursday charged with threatening to kill the dog, and was remanded to reappear in March so that diversion options could be investigated.

But relatives of those accused of harassing Miss Hughes have denied any wrongdoing, claiming the pair had never made an effort to get along with people on the street.

Maria Pawson, who has lived on Crewe Cres for six years, said there were lots of good family-oriented people in the area, including many Tongan families.

"It's a good neighbourhood if you get out and mingle with the people, they will be nice to you."

"They don't realise the Tongan families here are really friendly. If you become friends with them, they'll look out for you."

There were no street gangs operating in the area, despite claims made by Mr Field, she said.

Teenager Lotomoua Taukapo, 13, said the accusations , which included threats to stab Mr Field and eat the family dog, were untrue or exaggerated.

"We tried being friends with them but they don't want to be friends with us."

She said Crewe Cres was a cool place to live and she never felt in danger there.

Miss Hughes did not wish to respond to her neighbours' comments when contacted by the Standard.

A multi agency group, which includes police, Refugee Services, Palmerston North City Council and Neighbourhood Support, have been working in the area to alleviate resident concerns, which include youth issues and unsafe driving.

Amid all the talk, about 25 children in the area were more interested in hula hoops, piggyback rides and jumping rope during a holiday programme yesterday.

Funding for the programme, which was held six times during the summer holidays, was provided by the Refugee and Migrant Settling In project.

Former mayor Heather Tanguay, who helped organise the programme, said it was great to see a mixture of children from Crewe Cres' various ethnic groups taking part, from Burmese and Bhutanese to Cambodian and Chinese.

Co-ordinator Jill Spicer said the children had been very receptive to the programme.

"They're lovely kids, they are really nice."

She would like to see more parents come along if the programme was repeated next year.


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