Patrick Gower - Hero of the week | The Jackal

17 Jun 2021

Patrick Gower - Hero of the week

If you’ve ever been affected by the P epidemic in New Zealand, and it’s my bet that in some way you have, the documentary by Patrick Gower that aired on TV3 last Tuesday night was a must watch program.

Not only did this excellent show delve into the underbelly of local dealers and gangs who import and distribute the insidious drug into New Zealand, it highlighted the way in which P, also known as pure, ice or meth, is brought into the country by international cartels that are making a killing.

Gower, who also did a pretty good job of investigating New Zealand’s marijuana scene prior to the cannabis referendum, put himself in some very dubious situations to get the P story...and what a story it is. From the elation of border enforcement officers uncovering concealed meth imports to Mexican cartels boasting about New Zealand being such a good market, the Patrick Gower on P doco was an in-depth and well-balanced piece of broadcasting that every Kiwi adult should watch.

However there was one part in particular that means Gower wins a Hero Award, his advocating for a health based approach. The often-contentious reporter made a very good argument for why the system should give P addicts a chance to get clean, including an inspirational story about Jessie who had beaten, with some help, her P addiction.

On Tuesday, Stuff reported:

Patrick Gower delivers heartbreaking and shocking stories in important meth doco

REVIEW: Journalist Patrick Gower admitted it would be viewers’ Netflix-fuelled fascination with the criminal underworld which would get people tuning in for his latest documentary.

And his access behind bars in New Zealand, and in video calls to Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel, certainly delivers parallels to the likes of Narcos or Ozark. But the real story uncovered in Patrick Gower: On P is from Jessie, a young mum in Moerewa, who is three years clean.

Jessie clearly loves her kids, and her whānau. They love her, too. But despite all that, she was dangerously addicted to meth for a long time – sometimes ticking up a bill of about $2500 each day, she says.

It’s hard to imagine the true hold of P but she describes the problem with clarity, power and a level head rarely brought to discussions about drugs and gangs. 

Gower also reported on a pilot program in Whangārei called Te Ara Oranga whereby the Police, instead of charging people, allow addicts to be referred to medical professionals with the expertise to help them kick the habit.

With an estimated 140,000 regular P users in New Zealand this isn’t just a good way for the Government to save money, but the only way to address what has become a somewhat insurmountable drug epidemic that the justice system simply cannot deal with by itself.

Extending this pilot across all of New Zealand so that addicts can get the medical assistance they require is something that must happen if we’re ever to address the harm that P does to our communities. 

The only real question is whether the Government is brave enough to do what is right?