Whistle-blower cops surfers‘ abuse
A Hot Water Beach resident abused whilst trying to stop lockdown flouting surfers says he won't give-up on his mission to keep the waters clear.
The man, who wanted to remain anonymous so he could remain unrecognisable to the law breaking surfers, says despite his best efforts, the Coromandel surf beach remained a popular spot.
On Saturday, April 4, police released updated guidelines around Alert Level 4 rules and provided clarity around what was acceptable bubble behaviour - that included a ban on swimming or water-based activities such as surfing or boating.
But just days later, the Hot Water Beach local counted around 20 surfers in the ocean. As Easter weekend rolled in, there continued to be a steady stream.
When he confronted them, he was abused.
"Since lockdown started I've been trying to educate the people of Hot Water Beach, but I'm not getting very far," he says.
"They're very defiant and have been very smart and abusive and they're making a lot of noise to be noticed."
He says he's well-aware that being a "squeaky wheel" wouldn't do him any favours with the surfing community, but his priority was keeping the community safe.
"Our focus at the moment is trying to fight coronavirus, and it should be all for one and one for all, but there's a division here.
"Hot Water Beach used to be the best beach in the world, and the best beach in the world should set the best example.
"I thought the people here would take this international hotspot and put it on the map again, and give it kudos in a crisis by being a leader."
The man says he's disappointed in the abuse aimed at him, but wondered why there wasn't a stronger police presence to enforce the latest restrictions.
A police spokesperson told Stuff that while a majority of people are following Level 4 restrictions, they are aware of some instances where people have continued to head to local surf spots, including Hot Water Beach, and officers have attended as a result, they say.
"Our preference has been to talk to the public about the restrictions in place; however, if people continue to breach the rules, our officers have the discretion to take enforcement action.
"The message to people is clear - if you're planning on going surfing – don't.
"While you can leave your home to exercise, you need to keep it local. We are continuing to ask people not to go swimming or surfing or to do things that may require help if they end up getting into trouble, because that places others at risk and puts pressure on our emergency services."
The spokesperson says that if people had concerns for their safety or the safety of others, they should call 111 straight away.
For the man, who has called Hot Water Beach his home for more than four decades, his love for the Coromandel town outweighed the risk of abuse.
"I've thought about it all - the stress, how this was affecting my health - but at the end of the day, I want to know that at the end of this I played my part," he says.
"I don't want to get COVID-19, and I don't want Hot Water Beach to get it because I love Hot Water Beach."