It started with screams on a roof in February.
Later came police visits, broken bottles, confrontations, a street meeting, alleged threats of gang links, filthy language on both sides and, most recently, four free-range eggs flung over the fence.
This is the story of an inter-generational neighbours at war dispute unfolding in the most unexpected of locations, a quiet, tree-lined Remuera cul de sac where neat gardens abound and house values uniformly end in million.
On one side of the fence in tiny Avice St is father-of-two Mike Edgington, 48, and his 46-year-old partner.
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On the other side are 19-year-old Cole Pocock and his four flatmates, all young university students or workers.
The Weekend Herald uses given names in our stories. But the warring neighbours don’t always do the same.
One nickname, Macbeth’s witches, chosen by Edgington’s partner for a young neighbour and her friends, is inspired by Shakespeare’s 400-year-old tragedy. Others are less-inspired, and unprintable.
In mid-February Edgington’s son told him, “I think there’s a family with teenagers moving in next door.”
But the older adults left and the teens remained.
“They hadn’t quite finished unloading things by 4pm and by 5pm they were getting drunk,” Edgington says.
“I thought, ‘Okay, they’ve had a housewarming, that’s okay.”
But around dinnertime the next day the stereo “shot up to an extraordinary level”, people began arriving and “a bunch of young guys” climbed on to the roof and started shouting, screaming and “swearing at the top of their lungs”, Edgington says.
“It was like an American frat party … I said to them, ‘Are you going to stand up there and drink p*** all afternoon and scream at the top of your voice and annoy the whole neighbourhood? Just get off the bloody roof’.”
Since then, he says, there have been incidents of the flatmates’ friends urinating on people’s properties, parking across driveways, leaving broken bottles and rubbish on the street, and noisily arriving back from late nights on the town.
That’s not what Avice St is about, says Edgington, who has rented his home in the street for three years.
Many households are young families and, renters or owners, take care of their homes.
“Neighbours have said to us they don’t want to go out on to the street at night, when that lot’s around, with all their behaviour. They felt intimated, I certainly did when they moved in. I felt under siege.
“We felt like if we got together as a neighbourhood and we got the police involved hopefully they would grow up a bit and settle down, and it’s not worked.”
Neighbour Mary Huang says she has heard foul language and disorder on the street, and once saw broken bottles on the kerb, which frightened her.
Other neighbours didn’t want to comment. One home in the street is for sale.
Pocock concedes he and his flatmates haven’t been perfect neighbours, although he claims the roof incident consisted of a single yell of “mates”.
Their housewarming got out of hand after strangers showed up. But a mid-year, mid-week birthday party had been advertised, with a contact number, to neighbours, he says.
It was screaming in the aftermath of that party that woke Edgington and his partner, leading to a confrontation with drunken party-goers on the street, including one lying on the road. Police were called.
Edgington alleged a visiting partygoer shoved him, but he chose not to press charges out of concern for the teen’s future, he says.
Pocock’s friends and flatmates alleged Edgington threw a bottle at the wall of their lounge and hurled abuse because his partner had been stood over in a threatening manner on the street.
Edgington said he’d actually dropped an empty bottle he’d picked up from the street on the carpet and shouted at those in the room to “sort their mates” following the incident, admitting he “may have used” the c-word.
“We’ve definitely done stuff that’s made us bad neighbours,” Pocock said this week.
“But I feel like a lot of it’s been blown out of proportion.”
He’d cleaned up broken bottles and rubbish as early as 8am. And when police arrived following the mid-winter party they told him there was no problem.
“They said, ‘You’ve done nothing wrong’.”
Edgington says police had told them to call 111, rather than go to the student flat, when problems arose.
Noise control had never been called because the disruption was not about music so much as random yelling, screaming and disorder, he says.
In the latest flare-up, both sides called police.
The spark? Four eggs thrown by Edgington’s partner at the student flat last Friday.
His partner had just been diagnosed with cancer when she thought she heard the young neighbours “starting up” early evening, Edgington says.
“She just thought, ‘They’re not kicking off this weekend’.”
The teens responded to the sticky yellow mess on the side of their house by yelling, ‘What did we do?’, followed by calling his partner a “f***en b***h, he says.
“[Her response was] ‘The previous nine months is what you’ve done. I’ve got b****y cancer, that’s why’.”
Pocock says the couple came to their house on Sunday.
“We closed the door on them because they were just screaming their heads off.”
Accusations included that they smoked P – Edgington told the Herald a neighbour had once seen someone walking down the flat’s driveway with a glass pipe – which was “absolute garbage”, Pocock says.
“No, we don’t smoke P.”
Pocock also claims that when the couple first spoke to him in April about noise and behaviour at the flat, Edgington’s partner made threats about gang connections.
Edgington says that is a lie.
So, now what?
Edgington says Avice St is a wonderful street to live in, and would be again in future.
They didn’t intend to leave.
He says he contacted the Weekend Herald because he wanted to shame his young neighbours’ parents and former schools.
“These entitled brats are a product of a society where you’ve got all these parents, and society itself, placing so much emphasis that you have rights, and they don’t tell them about their responsibilities.”
But Pocock says the couple know nothing about the flatmates, who include an electrician, two commerce, one biomedical science and one law student, all of whom have been educated at State or Catholic schools.
“They go on and on about how we’re trust fund babies and ‘mum and dad aren’t here to protect you’. They don’t know a single thing about us.”
He says Remuera is close to university and the flat costs $950 a week between five, about average for the location. Their lease ends in February and he’s not sure whether they’ll renew.
“I’ll be sitting here by myself and I’ll hear noises and my first thought goes to ‘F***, is the neighbour coming over to do something?’
“It’s just that little edgy, not really homely feeling.”