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Karen Workman, left, and Frances Nicol lead the charge against youth vaping at a peaceful protest in Paeroa. PHOTO: KELLEY TANTAU

Outcry over second vape shop in Paeroa

Paeroa’s second vape store is set to open less than 30 metres from an early childcare centre. As part of an ongoing series, The Profile talks to a former nurse and former teacher, who have rallied the troops to try to prevent youth from picking up the pens. Kelley Tantau reports

There was no missing the cohort of protestors calling for support in the form of car horn honks and petition signatures on Friday afternoon in Paeroa.
Their message, plastered loud and clear on placards: No more vape shops in the Hauraki.
The peaceful protest came to pass after its organisers were made aware of a new vape store, Vape & Vape, opening along the main street – the second to be opened in Paeroa, a town of less than 5000 people.
Leading the charge was a former teacher and a former registered nurse, and their ambition derived from a passion to keep e-cigarettes out of the hands of the youth.
“You can’t tell me that candyfloss and watermelon [flavours] are not aimed at the younger age group,” Frances Nicol told The Profile. “And it’s all these ones who have never smoked cigarettes before who are taking up vaping… They don’t need this added addiction shoved in their faces.”
The new vape shop takes the place of Ebony Boutique, a clothing store at 61 Belmont Road. Former workers at Ebony were at Friday’s protest, and called the store’s new aesthetic – bars over the door and picturesque windows blocked out – “disgusting”.
“It was such a beautiful old building and it’s not a pretty building now – it’s scary and uninviting,” they said.
The Profile visited the store on September 1, but it was closed. ‘Vape & Vape’ could also not be found on the New Zealand Companies Register.
However, Hauraki District Council explained that the building’s owner did not need to go through a resource consent process because retail was permitted in the town centre zone.
“From a building perspective, depending on where the shop is and what it was previously used for, there could be a possibility of a ‘change of use’, which would trigger a building consent application,” a spokesperson told The Profile back in March, when rumours of a new vape store first started swirling. “This is fairly unlikely though, as most of the shops on main street are retail.”

Sybil Woolmore, centre, retired as manager in February but had worked at Ebony Boutique for more than two years. PHOTO: KELLEY TANTAU

In June, the government announced new vaping policies to tackle youth vaping, including a ban on specialist vape retailers establishing businesses within 300m of schools.
The changes would come into effect on October 1.
The new Vape & Vape store is just 27m from the Paeroa Early Learning Collective, and remained closed on the day of the protest.
Brian Dobbs owns the Paeroa Early Learning Collective and is the largest provider of early childhood education in the Hauraki. His suspicions about the nature of the new store were only confirmed when The Profile contacted him last week.
He said the centre had a “sound” health and safety policy, and as part of its curriculum, it provided age-appropriate learning on personal safety and well-being, as well as concepts for the four and five-year-olds on getting ready for school and “stranger danger”.
“We will now be reviewing all our policy, protocols, and procedures,” he said. “I will also be seeking advice from the Ministry of Education on how we can help keep the children we have the responsibility of caring and educating as safe as possible.”
On Friday, Deputy Mayor Paul Milner stopped in to support the people’s right to protest.
He confirmed that council staff and elected members did not have any say over what premises could go into business in Paeroa.
“The only ones council could have a say on would be the psychoactive substances, for which we have a local plan for, or alcohol shops,” he said.

The new vape store - Vape & Vape - is the second vape store to open in Paeroa. PHOTO: KELLEY TANTAU

But when asked if central government should have had the foresight to regulate the number of vape stores in any one town, deputy mayor Milner said “it would have been good” had they done more “in the first place”.
“I feel like they’ve dropped the ball and missed a great opportunity, and now they’re talking about doing a bit more, but they had their chance in the last two years to do more and chose not to.”
According to the Ministry of Health, a specialist vape retailer must “take all practicable steps to prevent people aged under 18 from entering their approved vaping premises”.
Karen Workman, who was a registered nurse for 46 years, said she had watched people die from respiratory deaths and she did not want New Zealand’s youth to suffer similar fates.
“Our generation was told that cigarettes were cool, and they’re not cool. You put those things into your body and it alters what your body does, and it’s not for the better,” she said.
“For young people under 25, it can alter their brain waves, their lungs… they have their whole lives in front of them, and they’re already ruining it up-front.”
The Paeroa protestors have also established an online petition. To sign, visit and search for “stop Hauraki vape”.
How has vaping affected you or your family? To be part of our ongoing series, contact