Bad behaviour forces early closure

Concerned about the behaviour of some young people in the Mataura Library and Service Centre are ...
Concerned about the behaviour of some young people in the Mataura Library and Service Centre are (from left) Mataura Community Board chairwoman Nicky Coats, librarian Eve Gillman-Trees and Mataura ward councillor Neville Phillips. The library is closing at 2.30pm each day because of the antisocial behaviour of young visitors. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON
Gore District Council and Mataura Community Board members plan to meet police and Hokonui Runanga this week to work on a solution to the anti-social behaviour of youth in Mataura.

Last week the council made the decision to shut the town’s service centre and library at 2.30pm each day, due to young people intimidating staff.

Gore District Mayor Ben Bell, Mataura Community Board chairwoman Nicky Coats and Mataura ward councillor Neville Phillips met staff on Monday.

Gore District Libraries Manager Emma Sherie said it was unacceptable that staff had to put up with the verbal abuse and threatening behaviour.

Mataura Library was single-staffed, which had become an issue given the youths’ behaviour, she said.

It was decided to ensure two staff were on duty in the short term.

Mrs Coats said she had been overwhelmed by the outpouring of community support for the librarian.

"Eve [the library assistant] is a local icon."

Mrs Sherie said there have been a lot of questions about turning off the Wi-Fi, as it seemed to be one of reasons young people hang around the area.

However, the service was provided by a third party, which provided Wi-Fi to all public libraries through the Department of Internal Affairs, and it could not easily be turned off.

"We have a lot of customers who rely on our Wi-Fi, so it’s important we retain this service," she said.

The youths are believed to be aged between 14 and 19 years.

A nearby store manager, who declined to give her name, said the youths had been a problem for the past three months and it had become "too much".

"They are coming in [and] stealing stuff."

When she advised them the shop had security cameras they did not care and laughed.

"They have no embarrassment."

She had not reported the stealing to police yet, but told the youths she would contact their parents.

"They don’t have fear of anyone."

When she asked the youths to leave "they are just making faces and showing fingers to us".

There was a bench outside the shop for customers to sit on, but the youths sat there and then left their rubbish behind.

People came into the shop and reported the mess, and also complained about their behaviour.

They also poured their drinks out in the doorway of the shop.

"There are still so many stains."

In the mornings some of them would walk halfway out on the pedestrian crossing so drivers had to stop, then walked back.

"It’s annoying to people."

In October last year, vandals caused $20,000 worth of damage to property in Mataura, kicking in windows and damaging toilets.

Sergeant Eric Browne, of Gore, said on Friday, police had received one complaint about an incident in Mataura concerning the library and obscene language by youths last Monday.

Police could only act on information received and he urged the public to report any incidents of concern.