No consultation again: CCTV rolls out in Wānaka
Just weeks after pressing pause on the roll out of CCTV cameras in Glenorchy to better consult with the community it appears cameras are being installed in Wānaka in a similar manner.
Crux understands CCTV surveillance is coming to the popular Wānaka skatepark as well as a handful of other locations in town, including outside Ardmore Street’s Doughbin Bakery.
Wānaka Skate Club president Olly Burke says he noticed a pole go up at the skatepark last week.
“I started getting calls about ‘are we getting lights at the skatepark’, which is something we’ve requested time and time again.”
But a sparky in the club crew reported the wires coming out of the pole seemed to be for CCTV.
“I thought, ‘well that’s pretty’ odd.”
No one had approached him or the club with the plan, he says, and he reckons that’s not ok.
He’s since spoken with local government elected members – deputy mayor and Wānaka councillor Quentin Smith, Lake Hāwea-based councillor Cody Tucker and Wānaka-Upper Clutha Community Board chair Simon Telfer – none of whom know exactly what was going on.
“I imagine the cameras are going to be installed before any answers come, but it’s too important of an issue to just leave," Mr Burke says.
He wants to know why members of the community – especially a group like the one he represents who is invested in the skatepark and the young people using it – or even members of the local community board haven't been consulted.
“It needs to be stopped before it just steamrolls ahead.”
It’s not clear to him why surveillance of the park is needed and, when it comes to making the spot safer, his members have long been asking for lighting and fencing, especially after a fatal night-time accident at an Auckland skate park, not a camera, he says.
“It’s a bit of a head scratcher and it’s a waste of money…they are prioritsing surveillance over safety. If someone falls in that bowl and dies, the council is going to have that on their hands.”
On Monday Crux asked the QLDC to answer questions on the alleged cameras.
At today’s time of publication, no responses to those questions had been received.
However, Crux knows the council has installed CCTV cameras at other locations across the district, and some of these are monitored by council contractor Cougar Security.
Mr Burke says the deputy mayor this week told him the new Wānaka cameras were instigated by the New Zealand Police.
Crux has approached Mr Smith for comment.
A police spokesperson says “the camera’s not a police camera, it’s a council camera”.
However, the police do talk with the council about many things, including locations of interest around Wānaka and the wider district, the spokesperson says.
“Any public place, such as the skatepark, where a range of people gather has the potential to be a location where instances of crime or disorder happen.”
Police do not monitor any CCTV cameras directly, but having footage available to view after an incident “is a helpful tool in the toolbox”, the spokesperson says.
Mr Burke says he’s one of a few adults who’s a regular at the skate park, and he’d like to see it a more regular stop for police on street patrol.
“Just once or twice a week, if they got out and came up to those kids – not in a negative way but just getting to know the faces and to let those kids know that are going to be coming around that area - that would cost a lot less and do a lot to stop any anti-social behaviour.”
He says the most common concerning behaviours are vaping and littering, although the nearby toilets were subject to considerable vandalism recently.
“It’s generally a really positive atmosphere, there’re not big fights.”
Wānaka-Upper Clutha Community Board chair Simon Telfer says the camera installation was news to him when Mr Burke alerted him to it, and he's since asked council staff for information on it.
He says he wants confirmation the new pole at the skate park is to be used for CCTV and whether any community consultation happened if it is.
"If this is going to lead to a CCTV camera, we need to communicate with those key stakeholder groups - and the guardians of the skate park are a key one - what are we trying to achieve, is this the best way of resolving it, what are the implications of putting that there, have we got the community's support?
"I'm expecting much greater conversation...before cameras like this are installed in community areas."
He says there has been vandalism to public property in the area, including the public toilets.
"I'm not sure at this point, until I hear back from staff, whether the two things are related."
He says he's now working with Mr Burke to put to council suggestions on improved lighting and safety fences at the park.
"We can't advocate for these things if we're not aware of them."
Main image (supplied): A pole being installed at the Wānaka Skate Park was the first the local skate club knew of plans for CCTV surveillance at the site.