Memorial at bus hub shows community’s fears and grief

Pupils pay tribute to Enere McLaren-Taana, 16, who was fatally stabbed at the Dunedin bus hub on...
Pupils pay tribute to Enere McLaren-Taana, 16, who was fatally stabbed at the Dunedin bus hub on Thursday. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
It was almost business as usual except, at bus stop B. Reporter Tim Scott visited an unusually quiet Dunedin bus hub after school on Friday. 

It has gone from a crime scene to a place of mourning in less than a day.

Amid the grief, the buses keep running.

One passenger stands nervously, arms crossed in the cold.

Pairs of muddied school shoes tap on the footpath, while pairs of police officers walk up and down — some stopping to chat to teenagers who have little to say to them.

Those queueing for their buses are mostly silent.

"It’s right next to the police station," one woman waiting at a bus stop whispers to another.

A man points across the road.

"That’s where all the trouble was, around the toilets," he tells the person next to him.

As people wait for buses to arrive, bus stop B — where a 16-year-old boy was fatally stabbed on Thursday — is filled by a crowd with another purpose.

Gathered together in a circle, their backs turned to the traffic, a group of secondary school-aged children and parents bow their heads solemnly towards a memorial of flowers.

Many have been bought at the Woolworths across the road.

Bouquets stretch along the footpath, their number growing steadily over the afternoon as groups of young people, some in uniform, most not, make their way back and forth through the stream of buses.

Two boys string up fairy lights between cones placed to keep the tributes from being trampled.

Small candles flicker in the breeze and a pink teddy pokes out from between bouquets.

A group of boys add a pair of golden balloons in the shape of a "1" and a "6", the dead boy’s age.

Nearby, a woman sits cross-legged with one of several supplied sketch pads and markers on her lap and begins to write a message.

Hers will join messages emblazoned by others on the wall in yellow chalk.

"Forever 16".


There is a handwritten sign that says "make this a safe place for our kids".

The word safe is underlined.

Other teenagers sit quietly outside the police station.

Some of them knew the boy who died.

He was at the bus hub every morning, they say.

One reckoned there were about 300 people at the bus hub the previous afternoon, before the attack. Now there are only about 60.

Another said the bus hub feels quiet.

They are all shocked and sad.

"They’ve brought all the police out now, but it’s a bit late at this point," one said.

"I reckon it will only last a couple of days."

"It’s pretty insane," said another.

"I didn’t think he would die."