One night a few years ago I was returning home from recording at the radio station. It was overcast and completely dark and my path took me through the reserve in the middle of Coopers Beach. On the way through the reserve I passed a group of young people partying loudly with alcohol. They verbally threatened me. I found it expedient to walk quickly down to the beach. I didn’t want to risk antagonizing any of them so I said nothing except ‘kia ora’.

The next morning I walked the beach. I picked up a few bits of plastic and stopped in at the reserve to discard them in the rubbish bin. I was shocked to find broken bottles all around the area where the young people had been the night before. I chastised myself for not having called the police the night before. Doing so may have prevented the mess.

Surviving CENTREPOINT COVERSurviving Centrepoint is reputably the first expose written by someone who actually lived at the time of Bert Potter’s and Centrepoint’s social experiment, a time of questionable sexual freedom, extremely limited parental guidance and home of New Zealand’s first methamphetamine lab. The author, now a mother of two in her thirties and a physician, does us all a service by being courageous enough to share her sometimes shocking experiences. Five of the girls at Centrepoint went on to become prostitutes. One committed suicide.

We in the Far North have been stunned by a recent chapter of sexual violation to our youngsters. I’m writing of James Parker. His paedophilic behaviour went on for an extended period of time. I wonder if there were those who suspected Parker’s behaviour but didn’t report this to the police at the time. If they had I wonder if some of the subsequent sexual violations could have been prevented.

Just as I could have prevented a relatively minor act of vandalism by calling the police one dark evening there are perhaps those of us who know of some abhorrent behaviour in their neighbourhood that can and should be reported. The police are not always able to administer a successful outcome but we at least need to alert them of potential risks to life and property.

Kaitaia is currently reeling from the Parker crime. Teachers at Kaitaia Intermediate and Kaitaia College are well aware of the repercussions in the behaviour of the affected boys. These young people need our sympathy and our help if they are to overcome the hurts of their experiences and not turn their pain into anger, confusion and questionable behaviour of their own.

Problems cannot be repaired if they are not addressed. Let’s be open and caring and err on the side of due diligence. Turning the other cheek doesn’t imply closing one’s eyes.

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See