Surfers and boaties under fire at Waikato surf break



Surfers and peasants say they have been shot at, abused, or have destroyed property on remote Waikato Beach, and fears are only a matter of time before someone is killed.

Last week a Te Awamutu father, son and friend were shot while surfing on Albatross Pt off the coast of Taharoa.

Other deniers and surfers have told the Herald that they have been exposed to similar attacks at the same location, accessible only by boat or private land.

The last incident was condemned by the local police who warned "we are not in a war zone".

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Last Thursday the Te Awamutu trio got jetski's from Kawhia Harbor around 11.45 am and traveled 20 minutes south to Albatross Pt. They were surfing in the break when gunshots kept them on track.

The first two shots sounded farther away, but the third shot from bushland overlooking the water and landed only a few meters from where one of the group, a teenager, was surfing.

Sergeant Andy Connors of the Otorohanga police said the surfers fled the area and went back to the Kawhia boat rampage, undamaged but shocked.

The only policeman of Kawhia, who patrols Taharoa, happened to be on the boat ramp and recorded their statements.

"He [the constable] accidentally happened to meet them at the boat ramp. He was the Johnny on the spot – immediately got the details from them. They were ice cold and certainly nervous, as you would be. & # 39;

Another Waikato fisherman, who asked not to be mentioned, had a similar experience earlier this year.

The man said he was in his boat and was looking for a friend who was diving when someone started shooting at them.

More photo's were aimed at them when the friend quickly dragged himself into the boat. They rushed back to Kawhia and reported the incident to the police.

"She [locals] think they own the sea and nobody else is allowed there, "said the fisherman.

& # 39; A lot of boats have been shot down. It has been going on for ten years now … I know guys who have really gone and stopped at the beach, or have been fishing on the beach or even gone to land a boat there to look for some paua and they will really run from the beach. "

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The husband's wife said the situation seemed to get worse and she feared that someone might eventually be killed.

"An outright murder could take place and it would be buried at sea," she said.

Another old surfer said surfers feared their property and well-being, so it would not come close to Albatross Pt, despite being a good surf break.

Because it was a sheltered spot, the surf was good during big swell and southwest wind.

The 60-year-old said surfing on the break was "inviting only" and the locals did not want others to surf in their patch and repress the area. He described it as "extreme localism".

"I think there is a hardcore of the local people who surf there, they have access through the country – they can continue to the Maori country or the private country.

"I was on Raglan in March and I spoke with a few guys there and they said they had an invitation, but basically if I tried to paddle there and I was not welcome, they would basically make you heavy.

"They would hit you – absolutely.

"If you tried to get your vehicle there and then left your vehicle to go surfing, it would not be in a very good condition when you return."

Over the years he had heard of people who had their cars and trailer tires torn, windscreen wipers snatched away, car windows smashed and intimidated, called and harassed.

Connors said that such incidents should not be tolerated and encouraged the public to come forward.

"The shot for this young boy is only a few meters away from him and there is a big risk for these kinds of offenses, it's just unbearable, we're not in a war zone."

Connors said he was aware that there had been similar reports where others had been shot – bit had no details.

"The ocean is there for everyone to use and to fish and enjoy and for people to go to extremes to keep people away from their fishing spot – it's an ocean for heaven, everyone has to enjoy it."

The police continued to investigate Thursday's shootings and the police and the Waitomo iwi liaison officer planned to meet local residents later this week.


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