Mangere youth have been 'neglected for too long' - community leader


A south Auckland community leader says a severe lack of youth facilities is to blame for the mass brawl that broke out in Mangere on Monday.

Five teens were arrested; two face charges and the others have been referred to Youth Aid after the fight near the Mangere KFC, involving up to 80 school kids.

Mangere East Community Centre director Roger Fowler says Auckland Council and the Government have neglected south Auckland, and Mangere in particular, for too long.

"Young people, they have literally nothing to do after school," Mr Fowler said, speaking on Paul Henry.

He says the media coverage that focuses only on the fighting does not address what needs to be done to solve the problem.

"This is something that we've been pushing for in the community for quite some time. There are no skateboard rinks, there's no basketball courts, there's no gymnasium, no swimming pool - the sort of amenities that many communities would expect is just non-existent in Mangere East."

The Mangere area has a population of about 40,000, and Mr Fowler says it has grown rapidly.

"In the meantime funding has declined under this Government. Social workers working in schools, they've had their funding reduced and other funding has been cut as well."

He says the situation is terrible and something concrete has to be done to fix it.

"We've got elections coming up next month and perhaps our people of south Auckland can do something about it, and get councillors who are actually going to stand up for our community and push for decent community facilities for our young ones."

Auckland Council says there are a "significant number of facilities, projects and opportunities for youth" in Mangere and the surrounding areas.

"The local area is home to the Mangere Arts Centre and the Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa Pool and Leisure Centre, and the Mangere East Library is popular with young people of all ages," says Auckland Council's chief operating officer Dean Kimpton.

The library has recently introduced a "teen club", which met for the first time on Monday and gives teenagers the opportunity to act as library managers and design activity programmes for their peers.

There are also several parks in the area: "Examples include the Walter Massey Park exercise equipment, a skate park at Mangere Bridge, and basketball courts opposite the town centre in David Lange Park," Mr Kimpton says.

"We are always looking for ways to support the community and continue to work closely with, and support, many community partners and organisations to support youth and community outcomes."

The council and local board support the Youth Connections programme, which helps young people get into further education, employment or training, and the Mangere Community House has a number of popular youth-focused programmes.