Our last blog talked about Meth and drug Crime in your neighbourhood, for this blog we want to talk to you about dealing with meth. No, that’s not Dealing Meth.
This is definitely not the blog for that. I’m talking about dealing with the fall out of the Meth epidemic, dealing with the consequences of family and friends falling victim to its insidious grasp, and dealing with the stigma that is attached with the meth user or the P cook or even a township.
Ngaruawahia is one such township that has fallen victim to meth. Not in the sense that the town is rife with users, not that there are innumerable P cooks (there were only 14 according to locals), but in the sense the township now has a stigma attached to it.
Yes, Ngaruawahia is the township that couldn’t deal with its Meth problem, so a local gang member did.
In our last blog we said that the Tribal Huks had done Ngaruawahia a favour by clearing out the Meth dealers and well, what a difference a few days makes.
SO, one person decided to act without the consent of the community.
That one person did not represent the best interests of the community.
And that one person did not act with the blessings of the community either.
The gang member (read: whole gang?) essentially acted as a Vigilante. The very definition of Vigilantism is “a member of a self-appointed group of citizens who undertake law enforcement in their community without legal authority, typically because the legal agencies are thought to be inadequate.”
These comments surrounding the actions of that ‘one person’ have led to Ngaruawahia developing this stigma.
The stigma is “Ngaruawahia is the P Town of New Zealand.” Yes, to all intents and purposes, Ngaruawahia is the most P ridden town in the country. This is simply not true.
If you mention Ngaruawahia in conversation at the moment, the first thing out of your conversation partners mouth is “P” and how rife it is in Ngaruawahia.
Let’s put this to bed now shall we?
At the community meeting District Police Commander Naila Hassan said “There is no evidence that methamphetamine is more prevalent in Ngaruawahia than any other town in New Zealand. In fact, crime in Ngaruawahia is down on the same time last year according to the latest figures."
There it is. Straight from the Districts Top Cop. But sadly, when there is a stigma attached, just one article published online does very little to remove that perception.
In fact, if we look at the number of articles that have been written on P in the town and the actions of that one person, it numbers over 12,000. That is, the articles have been written, covered, shared and re-shared over and over. Yet conversely, if we look for the number of articles where the District Police Commander Naila Hassan is “combatting” that stigma, we reach a grand total of 176. (This number was accurate at the time of writing)
Now, we may be making sweeping generalisations here, but perhaps 176 positive articles do not outweigh the 12,000 plus?
The community of Ngaruawahia know the truth. They know that their town is not in the throes of a meth epidemic, but to New Zealand, and perhaps the rest of the world, Ngaruawahia is “not the place to go.”
I mentioned at the beginning of this article that there is “fall out” associated with meth. Usually we associate that with an individual i.e. a person who has “fallen victim” to meth and become a meth user. Or a meth cook who has been caught by the police. Or perhaps a house that has been contaminated by meth that has to be gutted. And these are all the usual associations with P use.
But this association is bigger than any of those. This is a whole township that is suffering the “fall out” of exposure to meth.
District Police Commander Naila Hassan tells us that crime rates are the same. That they may be, but if the good people of this world are taking into account the stigma of the “Town ravaged by P” then they are not looking to move to Ngaruawahia. In fact, some may be looking to move out. That could lead to the downturn of the township.
Perhaps we are thinking too small. A google search for “towns ruined by meth“ reveals 1,990,000 results. Yes, nearly two million search results for just that search. Of course, this is taking the world into account.
My point is this. It is not that there was or even is a problem with Methamphetamine in Ngaruawahia. It is not that there was or is a one man vigilante war on meth in Ngaruawahia. It is that the fall out from that is so far reaching and now uncontrollable that the stigma that is attached to the township could have socio economic effects lasting years.
The meth cooks and dealers by all accounts are gone from Ngaruawahia.
The vigilante has been taken to account and is facing charges.
But the real victim of this is not one individual, not one family, not one house. It, potentially, is all the individuals, all the families and all the homes in Ngaruwahia.
It is the entire township that suffers the fall out of this Meth problem.
A community was beginning to “step up” and do what it could to deal with the problem with the help of the local police. Instead, one person took vigilante actions that became widespread in the media and produced over 12,000 articles.
Ngaruawahia has now, and maybe forever more the stigma of Methamphetamine attached to it.
It maybe that the only cure for this is time, and, as the old saying goes “Time Heals All Wounds.” But one thing is for certain that together, as a community, we need to “deal” with this stigma and seek to turn it around.
It’s time to think about how we do that.