Residents in a Canterbury housing development have raised funds to install their own CCTV cameras amid fears of burglaries and car thefts.

Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey joined with residents in the Kaiapoi suburb of Sovereign Palms last week to mark the installation of the first CCTV camera.

“This is a good example of a community standing up for themselves and deciding they’ve had enough of their homes being broken into and taking back some control,” Doocey said.

“It is a way to take their streets back.”

Despite a recent spike in crime, North Canterbury remained one of the safest communities in New Zealand, North Canterbury police said.

The region’s growing population and improved transport access were contributing to a changing environment in the Waimakariri and Hurunui districts.

Residents have been fundraising to install the CCTV cameras, with help from police, the Waimakariri District Council and North Canterbury Neighbourhood Support.

Doocey said the community-led initiative started after resident Wendy Tait approached him when her campervan was stolen.

After looking into the installation of CCTV cameras by the Hurunui District Council, Doocey called a meeting in Kaiapoi last year.

Nearly 300 people attended and decided to fundraise for CCTV cameras to be installed in Sovereign Palms.

North Canterbury Neighbourhood Support helped residents by holding the raised funds.

Manager Dalice Stewart said the Sovereign Palms residents are still raising funds, with the goal of having three cameras in place by the end of the year.

Communities in Kaiapoi’s Siliverstream, Rangiora, Woodend and Pegasus have expressed an interest in having cameras.

“It really needs someone to step up and drive it,” Stewart said.

Retired police officer Ken Eccles, of Nelson, has been helping community groups to navigate the legal and technical requirements, she said.

Pegasus Residents Group Inc vice-president Heidi Wood said the group has identified some sites for CCTV cameras and hoped to roll out phase one soon.

Waimakariri Mayor Dan Gordon said the council had a network of CCTV cameras in central Kaiapoi, Rangiora and Oxford and it supported developing a community-led of cameras similar to the Hurunui model.

“Our district has an excellent service provided by Neighbourhood Support and the community patrols working to keep our communities safe.

“I’m sure additional cameras would complement the work they do and would be well received.”

CCTV cameras were instrumental in helping police identify the offender after a pounamu carving was stolen in Hanmer Springs four years ago.

Canterbury rural police area commander Inspector Peter Cooper said CCTV cameras are a valuable crime prevention tool.

Police engaged with councils to discuss crime trends and the best places to install cameras.

“Nationally, a number of local authorities operate and may monitor crime prevention CCTV networks to help reduce the incidence of crime and disorder, so that members of the community feel safe when visiting the public areas covered by the cameras.”

Camera footage could be used to track criminals, provided the use of CCTV cameras and sharing of data complied with the Privacy Act 2020.

By David Hill, Local Democracy Reporter

Local Democracy Reporting is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air