Paula “tough lady” Bennett

Anyone who knows won’t be surprised by the Herald story that she waded into a maul of fighting young people to break it up. She is a true Westie who takes direct action.

Travel consultant Eunice Matanibukaca said she was heading home when she heard swearing and yelling and saw girls “fighting, punching each other”.

“I saw Paula coming. I could just see in her face that she wanted to get to them. She just looked so angry, like she wanted all the kids to go – she just went into mum mode.”

Ms Matanibukaca said Ms Bennett headed straight towards the girls and physically forced them apart, before telling the crowd to move along.

Shop owner Vivian Wang also praised the “tough lady” who stopped the fight.

I sense a new nickname.

Ms Bennett said it all lasted “a few minutes”. A shopkeeper told her he had called the police. As one group was beginning to move away mall security arrived, and a few minutes later the police also turned up.

She said none of the fighters hit her, but she got called some juicy names. “It was language I wouldn’t use – and I’m a Westie.”

Goodness, it must have been colourful then.

Mayor Harvey told the Herald he had once broken up a fight and knew it could be frightening.

“I applaud her. It might not seem so wise in the cold, hard light of day – someone might stab you; you don’t know what they’ve got – but you just can’t let those things happen.”

He said he believed the council was doing all it could to keep the area safe. As well as “an MP who wades in and stops fights”, there were two youth centres nearby – one run by the council and the other by the Harawira family.

Yes, relaying on the intervention fo the local MP is not the best long-term solution 🙂

Ms Bennett said she would try to find a solution, perhaps a wider range of holiday programmes. “This wasn’t something new. A lot of them were really young and it quite alarmed me how young they were. The question is, do their families know where they are?

“We’re not talking about them hanging out for an hour. We’re talking about them hanging out for many hours over lots of days.”

Yes, theri parents are part of the solution.

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