Heaven is no halfpipe for young Masterton skaters

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JADE DAVIES
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The “newest, biggest and best” skatepark in the Wellington area has attracted young budding skaters, but some of its users have turned them away.

Reports of assault and intimidation at the Masterton attraction were received by local police and Masterton District Council [MDC]who said they were working together to make the park safe again.

“We can’t let people feel unsafe trying to use a public facility,” said Masterton Police Senior Sergeant Ian Osland.

Police had spoken with some parents of children who had been bullied, threatened and assaulted, and were working with the families of those causing trouble.

“These are small pockets of young children. We are working with the board and looking at some strategies to impact this current flurry of activity.

MDC said it was aware of the “unacceptable behavior” but was limited in what it could do to monitor activities in the park.

“The majority of users are having a good time and behaving appropriately with other uses,” said Steven May, MDC’s regulatory services manager.

“The skate community has been the driving force behind the redevelopment of the park and generally models the positive behavior that we expect to see at the skatepark, especially when it comes to supporting younger users.”

May said violence or any threatening behavior of any kind is unacceptable and people should report it to the police.

“Adults also have a role to play in modeling appropriate behavior and supervising young children.”

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Osland said police would consider restrictions and penalties to prevent future abuse, such as restricting access to the skate park.

“We will increase the police presence during the Easter weekend and the school holiday period to try to reassure the general public and to intervene in the event of behavior which affects public safety.

He said the situation was difficult as the offenders were around 11 to 13 years old.

“There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes with some of the identified behavior-related families.”

“We will engage with as many agencies as possible to support not only victims, but also the families of child offenders.”

Masterton’s new skatepark – rated “the newest, biggest and best” in the Wellington region by WellingtonNZ – opened in February, the culmination of a two-year project funded by the development unit Provincial Government and Masterton District Council.

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