The community of Kaiti in Tūranganui a Kiwa have ousted the pokie machines from the Kaiti Mall. Tuta Ngarimu, manager of the Ka Pai Kaiti Trust, says the battle has been won but the war on pokies continues.
“We saw so much despair, destruction and misery in this small space alone here, and I'd say it's similar throughout Aotearoa,” he says.
Ngarimu says the venue, a bar and TAB with pokie machines, was causing devastating impacts on the community.
“Domestics out here all the time- and the thing that got to us was the kids were always in the cars, crying, and it was just like normal behaviour around here," says Ngarimu.
"What made it even worse was the parents or the caregivers would come out of there and they had no money so no money for food. They'd take it out on the kids. So for us, it was about our kids.”
The Ka Pai Kaiti Trust objected to an application from the venue to renew their liquor licence. Ngarimu alleges that the venue made $12mil in the last 18 months, $10mil of which was not reinvested into the community.
“So $2mil went back into the community via sports trusts, but the majority of that money went out of the community and a lot of that money, they don't have to account for it. That's how corrupt this system is,” says Ngarimu.
The latest National Gambling Study (NGS) report confirms that although gambling participation continues to decrease, the amount of gambling-related harm remains unchanged.
In the last ten years, there has been a 19 unit reduction of machines in the Tūranganui area, with approximately 180 machines remaining.
“We're meeting people every week about changing the way that they think about the community and how they access finances to keep their kaupapa going- too many double standards in our community.”
Ngarimu says it's a national issue that needs to be addressed by central government.
If you or someone you know has a problem with gambling, telephone counsellors are available for free any time on 0800 654 655 or text Gambling Helpline on 8006.