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The strengthening of the community was one of many ideas to surface at a meeting on Wednesday night to discuss concerns about an underage drinking culture in Mataura.
The Mataura Community Board invited representatives from local organisations including police, secondary school guidance counsellors, schools, iwi and The Mataura Youth Trust to the meeting. About 25 people turned up.
Board chairman Bill Lee said the aim of the meeting was to discuss ideas which might help alleviate problems associated with the drinking culture adopted by some of the town's young people.
Mataura Taskforce chairwoman and board member Laurel Turnbull said the teenage drinking and its effects, such as broken glass and graffiti, were hugely concerning.
‘‘It's the mess that's left behind that's a concern to the town,'' Mrs Turnbull said.
Constable Leigh Waddell, of Mataura Police, said drinking in public places was not a new problem, and when there was drinking in those situations there was always a possibility of behaviour getting out of hand.
She stressed that the issues faced by Mataura were no different than those in other centres.
However, she said that often it appeared teenagers were drinking alcohol, but in reality they were drinking other soft drinks in bottles easily mistaken for alcohol containers.
While a liquor ban was in place in Bridge St it appeared the signage, warning of the ban, was not visible, she said.
Const Waddell described Mataura as a ‘‘neat little town'' and it was great to see people were willing to ‘‘step up'' and start working towards creating a community where everybody felt they belonged.
Mataura kaumatua and former community board member Dave Edwards said the values adhered to in the past by young people had changed and often teenagers did not respect the kaumatua in their community, therefore it was difficult to have an influence on their behaviour.
Board member Peter Crake said Mataura's population had become very transient.
‘‘Transient people don't have any pride in the town because they know they won't be here that long,'' Mr Crake said.
R & V Edwards Shearing co-owner Vanessa Edwards said another contributing factor was that the community was still grieving over the deaths of four young people who had died during the past year.
Secondary school guidance counsellor Pete Holden said that the deaths had ‘‘a devastating effect on our kids and our community''.
It was suggested that young people going through a grieving process should seek counselling.
Ideas were discussed, which aimed at building relationships with the town's young people in order to gauge their opinions on what they thought should happen.
One of the steps is the setting up of a small group of people who will go into the area's schools and talk to young people from Mataura.
Hokonui PHO representatives Joan Huling yesterday described the meeting as being ‘‘very positive''.