Advised to leave town

Police and social service agencies cannot keep woman safe in Gisborne.

A Gisborne woman has been advised to leave town because police and social service agencies cannot keep her safe in this region.

The 30-year-old woman stood up to gang members in a case that ended in a conviction but now faces homelessness.

She does not want to be named because she and other family members have experienced continued intimidation from members of a gang over the past year since she laid a complaint, which went to court and ended in convictions and jail time for three people.

Since then, she and her family have experienced verbal threats, drive-bys, abuse and a car smashed up outside their rental home.

They have also seen throat-slitting gestures made to them and the intimidation has extended from outside their home to the main street of Gisborne.

They were given notice by their landlord in February — the reason given that the landlord wanted to move back in.

This was their last week at the property and they have not yet been able to secure anywhere else to live.

Standing up against the gang had taken a huge toll on her family, she said. Now they needed help to find somewhere else to live but no one seemed able to help them.

The woman does not want to leave town. Her daughter is settled at school here, has friends and their family live in Gisborne.

“If I leave town, I will have no support, no family.”

Real Estate property managers have declined them.

The Ministry of Social Development has offered temporary accommodation but advised her that gang members visit there.

Gisborne Women’s Refuge recommended the woman and her daughter leave town. Manager Philippa Davies said they would drive her anywhere she wanted to go.

“We want to keep her and her child safe and the best thing we believe we could do, given our resources, is move her to another town until we can be sure the risks here have been reduced or eliminated.”

Ms Davies said she had sympathy for the woman’s predicament.
“Why should she, by doing the right thing, get bullied out of her town?”
The woman does not want to accept the temporary accommodation from WINZ because there is the possibility of gang members being next door.
Detective Sergeant Kevin Ford, of Gisborne police, said the woman did the right thing throughout.
She helped police get a conviction by testifying in court despite being threatened in the waiting room by gang members, who told her to withdraw her testimony.
Two men were charged over that incident and are in custody on charges of trying to pervert the course of justice.
Det Sgt Ford said police had provided a letter to the family to explain their situation to external agencies when they went looking for accommodation.
“We’re very supportive of helping her move somewhere”.
Any instances where there were witnesses intimidated or coerced into not giving evidence would be dealt with strongly by police and the courts would take a dim view of this, he said.
The woman says the past three months have been the worst.
There have been gang members turning up at their home yelling abuse, doing drive-bys, and a car was smashed up outside their home.
When the notice to vacate came from the landlord, saying he wanted to move back in, she wondered if that really was the case or whether neighbours had complained about the repeated abuse.
“I wouldn’t blame them at all,” she said about the neighbours.
The woman said she had accepted the restorative justice process with one of the offenders because she wanted to ask him face-to-face: “What did we ever do? Why did you do this?”
She will keep going to the police until the intimidation stops, she says.
In the meantime, she wants the police to help her find accommodation for her and her family.
“They got the conviction but don’t look after the people. We feel like we’ve done wrong.”
Ministry of Social Development East Coast regional director Jan Rata said they cared about the woman and her daughter’s safety.
“We are committed to doing everything necessary to make sure they have somewhere to stay that is safe and secure. We want to help with the challenges and concerns she has, and have offered her the best support we are able to — some of which she has declined or been reluctant to accept.
“We have matched her to a transitional housing provider, who is also working hard to find solutions for her.
“Transitional housing provides short-term housing for people with an immediate need while support is put in place to transition them into sustainable housing on a long-term basis.
“These places are managed by specialist emergency housing providers who are skilled in providing a range of social and tenancy-related support,” said Ms Rata.
“We work with these providers day in and day out, supporting people through a really stressful time in their lives, and we are working with a range of other organisations to ensure she is looked after.
Ms Rata said they understood many people who sought the ministry’s help might be vulnerable, at a loose end and looking for support.
“We know working through these issues is not easy and we appreciate she is trying to make the best of her situation for her and her family, and is asking for assistance to do so.
“We are continuing to support her over what options are best suited for her.”

A Gisborne woman has been advised to leave town because police and social service agencies cannot keep her safe in this region.

The 30-year-old woman stood up to gang members in a case that ended in a conviction but now faces homelessness.

She does not want to be named because she and other family members have experienced continued intimidation from members of a gang over the past year since she laid a complaint, which went to court and ended in convictions and jail time for three people.

Since then, she and her family have experienced verbal threats, drive-bys, abuse and a car smashed up outside their rental home.

They have also seen throat-slitting gestures made to them and the intimidation has extended from outside their home to the main street of Gisborne.

They were given notice by their landlord in February — the reason given that the landlord wanted to move back in.

This was their last week at the property and they have not yet been able to secure anywhere else to live.

Standing up against the gang had taken a huge toll on her family, she said. Now they needed help to find somewhere else to live but no one seemed able to help them.

The woman does not want to leave town. Her daughter is settled at school here, has friends and their family live in Gisborne.

“If I leave town, I will have no support, no family.”

Real Estate property managers have declined them.

The Ministry of Social Development has offered temporary accommodation but advised her that gang members visit there.

Gisborne Women’s Refuge recommended the woman and her daughter leave town. Manager Philippa Davies said they would drive her anywhere she wanted to go.

“We want to keep her and her child safe and the best thing we believe we could do, given our resources, is move her to another town until we can be sure the risks here have been reduced or eliminated.”

Ms Davies said she had sympathy for the woman’s predicament.
“Why should she, by doing the right thing, get bullied out of her town?”
The woman does not want to accept the temporary accommodation from WINZ because there is the possibility of gang members being next door.
Detective Sergeant Kevin Ford, of Gisborne police, said the woman did the right thing throughout.
She helped police get a conviction by testifying in court despite being threatened in the waiting room by gang members, who told her to withdraw her testimony.
Two men were charged over that incident and are in custody on charges of trying to pervert the course of justice.
Det Sgt Ford said police had provided a letter to the family to explain their situation to external agencies when they went looking for accommodation.
“We’re very supportive of helping her move somewhere”.
Any instances where there were witnesses intimidated or coerced into not giving evidence would be dealt with strongly by police and the courts would take a dim view of this, he said.
The woman says the past three months have been the worst.
There have been gang members turning up at their home yelling abuse, doing drive-bys, and a car was smashed up outside their home.
When the notice to vacate came from the landlord, saying he wanted to move back in, she wondered if that really was the case or whether neighbours had complained about the repeated abuse.
“I wouldn’t blame them at all,” she said about the neighbours.
The woman said she had accepted the restorative justice process with one of the offenders because she wanted to ask him face-to-face: “What did we ever do? Why did you do this?”
She will keep going to the police until the intimidation stops, she says.
In the meantime, she wants the police to help her find accommodation for her and her family.
“They got the conviction but don’t look after the people. We feel like we’ve done wrong.”
Ministry of Social Development East Coast regional director Jan Rata said they cared about the woman and her daughter’s safety.
“We are committed to doing everything necessary to make sure they have somewhere to stay that is safe and secure. We want to help with the challenges and concerns she has, and have offered her the best support we are able to — some of which she has declined or been reluctant to accept.
“We have matched her to a transitional housing provider, who is also working hard to find solutions for her.
“Transitional housing provides short-term housing for people with an immediate need while support is put in place to transition them into sustainable housing on a long-term basis.
“These places are managed by specialist emergency housing providers who are skilled in providing a range of social and tenancy-related support,” said Ms Rata.
“We work with these providers day in and day out, supporting people through a really stressful time in their lives, and we are working with a range of other organisations to ensure she is looked after.
Ms Rata said they understood many people who sought the ministry’s help might be vulnerable, at a loose end and looking for support.
“We know working through these issues is not easy and we appreciate she is trying to make the best of her situation for her and her family, and is asking for assistance to do so.
“We are continuing to support her over what options are best suited for her.”
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WCM, Whanganui - 3 days ago
Nobody should be intimidated by gangs and "advised to leave town". The woman has a free right to defend herself and her family - the law should back that up!