For those of you who don’t live in Auckland, I’ll just paint a picture of my weekend so you get the gist.
Saturday we go to lunch at a suburban café, sitting outside, minding our own business, eating lunch, and this extremely large woman – I’m telling you about her size because it’s significant in terms of what she said. She’s extremely large, and she walks slowly and unevenly - seemingly struggling to carry her own weight. And she comes right up to our table, leans in close to us, interrupts and says: “Can you help me?”
We are sitting there thinking what are we helping her with? Directions? Is she lost? She says, “I need money… I need money for food, I haven’t eaten in a week or two, my family hasn’t eaten either, we need money.”
So my first thought is that she doesn’t look like she hasn’t eaten in a week or two, but also, is it one week or two? Like there’s a big difference there if you’re starving for one week versus two. You’d probably know exactly, so for a couple of reasons her story doesn’t add up. I tell her we don’t carry cash – which is true, who carries cash these days? She doesn’t say ‘no worries’ or ‘thanks anyway’ - she just huffs and puffs like we’ve really pissed her off, and she lunges off to the next table. So that’s your al fresco lunch.
Later I go to the supermarket, I’m coming out with my trolley of groceries, looking for my car keys and a young woman – maybe in her 20’s, leans into me from around the corner of the exit as I’m leaving. She’s so far into me I apologise, assuming I’ve blocked her way or something, but she’s in my face and doesn’t budge. “I need money,” she says. I stop and tell her the truth, which is I don’t carry cash.
She rolls her eyes and goes to the next person. As I unpack my groceries and return my trolley I observe her hitting up about 15 more people leaving the supermarket asking them for cash.
Sunday morning I wake up to read the story of an Aucklander riddled with lead bullets and still traumatised by a gun attack in the CBD which has left him unable to work, his kids too afraid to visit him in Auckland from their home in Christchurch.
Auckland resident Paula Bennett’s column is in the paper too, the headline is “I’m scared”. She’s scared about the gang gun violence happening. She says loaded guns are putting innocent lives at risk, shooting up our neighbourhoods.
There’s also the story naming the homicide victim from a fatal violent attack of an innocent 25-year-old in Mount Albert, killed as he walked home from Uni.
By Sunday afternoon it’s reported another 20 bullets have been fired into a house in South Auckland.
My sons wake up from their big night on the town, I ask them how it went – I worry when my kids are in town, I hate them going in there. They tell me town was OK, “only about 3 fights,” that they witnessed.
So just the 20 bullet holes, the 3 fights (that we know of), and the suburbs filled with opportunists hitting people up for cash.
Welcome to Auckland - what a cool place to live.
Kate Hawkesby is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB - her articles can be seen HERE.
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