Gisborne locals protest to push pokies from community

By Talisa Kupenga

Around 40 people gathered to protest against pokies and alcohol in Gisborne alongside community group Ka Pai Kaiti. The group is pushing to rid Kaiti and eventually the wider community of pokie machines. 

A protest to push pokies and alcohol from Kaiti and eventually the wider community.

Ka Pai Kaiti Manager Tuta Ngarimu says "we're passionate and we love our community and we don't want them here or anyone else that's here to make money off the back of our people's misery."

Ngarimu says gambling links to some of the hardest social issues.

"We've got some of the highest suicide rates in the country, we've got some of the highest most shocking domestic violence statistics in Aotearoa, we've got the the worst gambling statistics in Aotearoa. Why are they coming here?"

MORE STORIES LIKE THIS - Ka Pai Kaiti want pokies gone Lizz Crawford says her family have been fighting against pokies in Kaiti for 18-years. She's also gathering signatures for a petition for the cause.

"It's not just about the pokies but the community voice is starting to rise on this issue and they want that particular system out of the Kaiti Mall. What we're talking about is not just class-four gambling, we're talking about the TAB betting and we're also talking about alcohol.”

Ngarimu says "you look at Kaiti not one cent of that has gone back in to the community. Across the road there is a primary school a pre-school a kindy, behind us is a kohanga reo another 100m down is another kindergarten so that’s another reason why we’re attacking this.”

The Kaiti Sportsbar has trespassed Ngarimu after an altercation with staff. The protest was planned for outside the premises but the owner applied to the landlord to have it relocated and the protest was moved to Heipipi Park.

Ngarimu says "It went a bit pear-shaped and I walked out of there but it never should have happened in the first place but at the same time that's how passionate I am about our community.”

Kaiti Sportsbar Owner-operator Mohinder Nagra told Te Kāea he is open to meeting with Ka Pai Kaiti to discuss the possible removal of the machines.