A lone police officer attacked in a small Waikato village is
considering his future amid fears for his wife and young
children, a friend says.
Alan Rutherford, a long-term Kawhia local and a close friend
of Constable Perry Griffin, said the constable was recovering
with family and was assessing his future in both his job and
He said it was unclear whether Mr Griffin would return to
work as there were concerns for the wellbeing of his wife,
who also works locally, and their two children aged 5 and 2.
"The sad thing will be if this forces them out of our
community," Mr Rutherford said.
A community meeting heard last night that Mr Griffin was the
third police officer to be assaulted in Kawhia around
Christmas in the past eight years.
Calls were made for a second police officer, an extended
liquor ban, more work programmes and events, and better
parenting and guidance for the area's youth.
Resident Bernard Hutchison said the youth were bored and had
no self-respect. "On New Year's Eve I saw 13-year-olds pissed
out of their brains."
The mother and wife of the father and son charged over the
alleged assault told the meeting she had lived in the town
for 16 years. Her son had grown up there and her husband
worked as an engineer before a car accident.
"I'm not here to defend, justify or excuse any of the
behaviours, actions or events of that night, but rather to
give a face and a voice to two men, a father and a son, who
have been portrayed as gutless, lowlife mongrels."
Another local, Bill Devoy, blamed older people for supplying
the youths with drugs and alcohol which led to parties and
One woman said she had witnessed a gun fight outside her
house where her seven children live.
A farmer said he was constantly burgled but his family
remained because they lived in "paradise".
There was talk of setting up a youth forum and installing
Maori wardens. But all agreed Mr Griffin was a much-needed
and respected officer who they want back. The Kawhia and
wider Waikato communities have rallied to help Mr Griffin and
his family. Fundraising has started to send them on a
Kawhia community board chairman Hano Ormsby told the Herald
before last night's meeting that there was overwhelming
support for Mr Griffin. But the issue was a difficult one for
locals, many of whom are related to the arrested men.
"It's probably a bit of that it's probably split down the
middle because there are views that are for and against what
has happened here," he said.
- James Ihaka and Natalie Akoorie of the NZ Herald