Rodney Times 12 June 2008
Anti-smacking supporters got violent at a gathering of signatures for the Citizens Initiated Referendum campaign last Saturday. Whangaparaoa resident Arna Mountain was gathering signatures for the petition when two women, on separate occasions, started abusing her. She says many people were eager to sign the two petitions, which ask ‘should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?’ and ‘should the government give urgent priority to understanding and addressing the wider causes of family breakdown, family violence and child abuse?’ She says she was shocked by what she sees as violent, anti-democratic behaviour. “These petitions are asking for the democratic right to vote on what has been a contentious issue, but these two women seemed determined to intimidate the public and those collecting the signatures.”
She says the first woman took offence to the gathering of the signatures and started yelling. How dare we smack our children, she shouted. Mrs Mountain says she then started telling bystanders to “roll up and sign the petition that allows you to abuse your children and then kill them, yes murder them, come on sign up.” Later she was approached by another woman who asked if this was the petition to sign, then grabbed it, tore off the signed part and ripped it into pieces. “The woman then took the clipboard which had other completed forms underneath and took off. I called her to give back the clipboard and the legal document she had torn. She threw it across the entrance-way and yelled about how smacking children was wrong,” she says.
Mrs Mountain says that while she is shocked at the intensity of the behaviour, there are obviously a few people who are mistaken about what the petition is about. “There are a few people who are completely unaware of the statistics that show that abuse and parental correction are completely different issues. No one in their right mind wants to abuse children. She says the vast majority of people are still against this law.” They received 144 signatures in a two-and-a-half hour period in Whangaparaoa. Petition forms can be downloaded from thekiwiparty.org.nz under ‘referendum’ or from Orewa and Whangaparaoa libraries. The last date for signing is June 15.