By Amanda Gillies
A small North Island town says unemployed people moving into the district are more trouble than they're worth.
The mayor of Kawerau in the Bay of Plenty says the recent arrival of five families from South Auckland has led to a rise in crime, so he's proposing a radical policy – if you don't have a job, don't move there.
Malcolm Campbell works two jobs in Kawerau. He's the mayor and the butcher. Working, he says, is the key to a happy, safe town.
“If you don't have a job and you live in South Auckland or wherever in New Zealand, then you should not be able to come to Kawerau unless you have an employment to bring here,” he says.
Mr Campbell says the five new families, with criminal backgrounds and 25 children between them, recently moved to town without jobs.
“They bring a lot of social issues with them. That's a real problem for us, just trying to alleviate some of the social issues that come with it.”
But how do you stop someone moving to your town?
“That's up to Social Welfare [Work and Income New Zealand] to implement as far as we are concerned.”
Seven thousand people live in Kawerau. When 3 News visited, it resembled a ghost town. We asked the few locals we saw what they thought of the mayor's policy.
One local 3 News spoke to says the policy is “just wrong”.
“Anyone should be welcome anywhere."
That’s not the case in Kawerau now. Just this week a beneficiary was caught thieving, and the mayor has some strong views on that as well.
“If somebody has committed a crime and they are on a benefit, then they should have their benefit cut immediately,” he says.
Mr Campbell says when the local Mongrel Mob won a million-dollar contract to build the power station, Kawerau was probably the safest town in the country. He says all the men were too busy working to cause trouble.
“Crime just went right out the door. In fact we nearly lost a couple of constables across the road here at our police station because there was just zero crime.”
Now he just has zero time for unemployed criminals heading to his town.