10 Sep 2013

Community distances itself from violent attack

8:50 pm on 10 September 2013

Police officers in south Auckland, where a colleague nearly died in an unprovoked attack, say the violent incident is not representative of the Otara community.

Sergeant Simon Tate remains in a stable condition hospital with injuries to his face and neck after he was hit from behind and punched, kicked and stomped on while he lay unconscious in Otara on Saturday night.

Recent police station closures in Otara and Papatoetoe, and the fact Mr Tate was working alone when he was attacked, have raised questions about police staffing in south Auckland.

Mr Tate's mother, Sharon Tate, says the attack could have been prevented if he had been working with a partner.

But Assistant Commissioner Operations Mike Rusbatch says police deployment policies won't be reviewed as a result of this incident.

Mr Rusbatch says staff safety is taken seriously - demonstrated by the introduction of stab-resistant body armour, better training of officers, and increased access to tasers and firearms.

Auckland councillor Alf Filipaina, who represents the Manukau ward and also works as a police officer in Counties Manukau, says despite the attack, he has no fear being out on the beat.

He says the community has been hit just as hard by the attack as the police.

Tunumafono Ava Faamoe, who sits on the Otara-Papatoetoe local board, says there is a huge amount of respect for police in south Auckland, and he hopes the attack does not reflect badly on the community as a whole.

However, Willie Maea, the chairman of the Otara Scorpions Rugby League club where the alleged attacker volunteered says incidents always come back to haunt the community.

"Sadly, it does sort of get magnified when it concerns our little community but we can only deal with it and hope that we come out the other end better people," he says.

Walter Tauatevalu appeared in court on Monday charged with attempting to murder Mr Tate and was remanded in custody until his next court appearance on 27 September.