Protesters call for pokie-free Gisborne

CLEAR MESSAGE: Making noise for a pokie-free Tairawhiti. Protesters gathered outside the Gisborne District Council building while a full council meeting was under way inside.

PROTESTERS yesterday urged Gisborne District councillors to be bold in responding to the social harm caused by poker machines.

About 20 people attended a protest organised by Ka Pai Kaiti Trust held outside the council building while a full council meeting was under way.

There was plenty of support from passersby as many cars and trucks sounded their horns. But one business took exception to the protest and requested the volume be turned down.

After a noise control complaint was made security staff attended and requested sound levels be moderated.

Ka Pai Kaiti manager and event organiser Tuta Ngarimu said millions of dollars left our district as a result of gambling, but the council still applied for funding from gaming trusts.

“They are applying for money that has come off the misery of our people," he said.

“Imagine if this was the first district council to rid its region of pokie machines. That would go around the world, and the community would be so proud.”

Calling for change

A representative from Tairawhiti District Maori Council, Marise Lant, and former GDC deputy mayor Nona Aston spoke to those gathered and urged both the council and the community to institute change.

A letter of support was read from Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri who apologised for not being able to attend but endorsed the event.

Mental health professional Blossom Stewart attended in support.

“In my work I see the negative outcomes associated with gambling every day," she said.

“Whanau, kaumatua and babies going without because the money has been gambled away. We don’t need this in our community.”

Mrs Aston said gambling was a hidden disease and a hidden hell.

“When our mokopuna go without because of this disease, something must be done to stop it.”

A protester who did not wish to be named believed change needs to happen.

“Gambling has adverse impacts on a broad range of people, especially the vulnerable,” the protester said.

“We want to not only bring about change locally, but also to take this to a national level,” Mr Ngarimu said.

“We are talking with people across Aotearoa so we can all link in and make it happen.”

PROTESTERS yesterday urged Gisborne District councillors to be bold in responding to the social harm caused by poker machines.

About 20 people attended a protest organised by Ka Pai Kaiti Trust held outside the council building while a full council meeting was under way.

There was plenty of support from passersby as many cars and trucks sounded their horns. But one business took exception to the protest and requested the volume be turned down.

After a noise control complaint was made security staff attended and requested sound levels be moderated.

Ka Pai Kaiti manager and event organiser Tuta Ngarimu said millions of dollars left our district as a result of gambling, but the council still applied for funding from gaming trusts.

“They are applying for money that has come off the misery of our people," he said.

“Imagine if this was the first district council to rid its region of pokie machines. That would go around the world, and the community would be so proud.”

Calling for change

A representative from Tairawhiti District Maori Council, Marise Lant, and former GDC deputy mayor Nona Aston spoke to those gathered and urged both the council and the community to institute change.

A letter of support was read from Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri who apologised for not being able to attend but endorsed the event.

Mental health professional Blossom Stewart attended in support.

“In my work I see the negative outcomes associated with gambling every day," she said.

“Whanau, kaumatua and babies going without because the money has been gambled away. We don’t need this in our community.”

Mrs Aston said gambling was a hidden disease and a hidden hell.

“When our mokopuna go without because of this disease, something must be done to stop it.”

A protester who did not wish to be named believed change needs to happen.

“Gambling has adverse impacts on a broad range of people, especially the vulnerable,” the protester said.

“We want to not only bring about change locally, but also to take this to a national level,” Mr Ngarimu said.

“We are talking with people across Aotearoa so we can all link in and make it happen.”

Ka Pai Kaiti plans to gather outside the War Memorial Theatre today at 11am, where the Government will launch the Tuawhenua Provincial Growth Fund, attended by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters.

Further events are being planned.

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