Thursday, September 11, 2008

Guilty Verdict in Masterton Back Packer Assault

Maia Crawford Rongonui was found guilty yesterday of assaulting a 21-year-old tourist with intent to commit sexual violation, and sexually violating her in an attack at Easter last year.

Rongonoui had previous convictions that included burglary, two assaults and one of carrying out an indecent act with intent to offend. He's now in custody awaiting sentencing.

Full story here

Links to

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Auckland Rail Seeks Help from Zimbabwe

Even at the best of times public transport in New Zealand doesn't measure up to the service offered to communters in other developed countries. Now Veolia Rail has turned to the developing world for help. This amusing and incisive article appeared in today's NZ Herald, it was written by Peter Lyons.

Source: NZ Herald, 9 Sept 2008

Oh the horrors of Auckland Rail Travel
A delegation of Government rail officials arrived in Auckland recently from Zimbabwe. They are here to advise Veolia rail on improving customer services in Auckland.

President Mugabe's Government receives few complaints about rail services in Harare.

A philosopher once said, "Most men live lives of quiet desperation." This certainly applies to Auckland rail commuters. Their mornings begin with a journey into the unknown.

Seasoned rail users have figured the peculiarities of the rail timetables in Auckland. The printed times are an average. This average is based on a weekly calculation. Ten minutes late today is balanced by 10 minutes early tomorrow, or later in the week.

Veterans on the Western line watch novices clambering across the tracks in front of oncoming trains running 10 minutes early. The next hurdle involves milling round the carriage doors which can take up to a minute to open. This is Veolia's version of a slow tease. Their marketing department realises that anticipation heightens desire.

The trains that run earlier than scheduled are empty for obvious reasons. Their passengers are waiting in vain back down the line. The trains that run late are packed

"Train Surfing"

Commuters who are required to stand can experience the fast-growing sport of train surfing. This gladiatorial contest favours the fuller figured over the frail.

It's an egalitarian sport. A 100kg shelf stacker from Pak'N Save can easily crush a wafer-thin executive from Westpac. The size of pay packet counts for little.

The lack of hand holds for those under two metres provides endless amusement for those fortunates who have a seat. The unwise or unwary end up in a crumpled heap at the back of the cabin.

Peak time is a case study in the business practices of the former Soviet Union. The ticket collectors end up wedged in a mass of humanity unable to move.

The company should issue them with rubber suits and buckets of jello to give them any hope of collecting fares.

The staff are courteous and affable. This is in contrast to Auckland's sometimes homicidal bus drivers. It is one of the ironies of modern corporate life that the least paid bear the brunt of consumer displeasure at shoddy service.

Inept and inadequate management seldom venture to the front line. Hopefully one of these poorly paid employees, in keeping with the fairytale of modern capitalism, may end up running the system. Maybe then the trains will run on time and carriage doors will open promptly. Proper hand holds could be installed to protect the small from the big. Ticket payment could be automated and turnstiles installed at stations like in many Third World countries.

The marketing guy from Veolia was on the telly the other night. He was attempting to explain the near-death experience of a customer who got stuck in a carriage door. He should have spun the line that their complete service package ranges from minor irritation to near-death experiences.

"New Delhi is Superior"

Among the most bemused by Auckland's rail system are migrants. Recently, while waiting for the 7.15, which arrived at 7.35, I encountered an Indian lady still waiting for the 6.30 service.

She informed me of the superiority of the New Delhi transit system. As she was talking the 8am sped by. Some arbitrary power had converted it to an express service. Ten minutes later a disembodied voice came over the station intercom to inform us of this fact. There was no apology.

School kids kicked off trains

Parents can be assured that if their child sets out for school at 6.30 they will arrive by morning interval. A recent practice has been to offload school students in favour of full fare-paying adults.

Skyrocketing petrol prices have caught Veolia planners by surprise despite the occasional mention in the media. Heaven knows the impact of this practice of bumping students off on the poor little tikes' self-esteem. They huddle in masses from the cold winter chill as the train leaves the station without them. It's quite heart-wrenching for us teachers on board.

Veolia has taken on the role of educating our youth that limited resources mean there are always winners and losers in life. We used to have an exam system that did likewise.

The rail service is a blessing for workplace malingerers like middle-aged school teachers who over indulge at Wednesday night pub quizzes. A lengthy sleep-in can be excused by reference to rail fail.

Slackers can arrive at work at the same time as conscientious colleagues who didn't realise the timetable rivals Harry Potter as a work of fiction. It's difficult to understand why Aucklanders persist in using their cars when such delights await them on the tracks.

Car addicts sit silently at morning breaks as rail enthusiasts relate harrowing experiences on the journey to work.

For more on the state of Auckland's rail service see here: It's crush hour on city trains

Home Invasion Victim Out Of Hospital

Source: NZ Herald, Tues 9 Sept, 2008

"A 67-year-old man attacked by two teenagers in a Wanganui home invasion last night is expected to be released from hospital today.

Detective Constable Aaron Bunker said the man had suffered cuts and bruises to his head after answering his door to two males in their mid teens about 9pm. The pair burst into his home, demanded personal items and attacked him with a weapon.

He was taken to Wanganui Hospital, where he stayed overnight, and was expected to be released later today.Mr Bunker said the man was in "relatively good spirits" and had spoken to police.

Wanganui police said the man's stolen Eftpos card was used at the Gonville Shopping Centre ATM half an hour after the attack.

Police are looking for the two teenage males described as Maori, who may have been seen in the Hackett Street area or at the shopping centre about 9.40pm."

Home Invasion in Dallington, Christchurch

"A Christchurch woman was bashed around the head after being roused from her bed by a balaclava-wearing attacker last night.

The home invasion in the suburb of Dallington happened about 10.30pm and left the woman, aged 58, with serious bruising and concussion.

A neighbour said the woman, who lives alone, was in bed when her attacker broke down the back door of her Snell Pl home. He asked her for money and jewellery before bashing her several times around the head, the neighbour said.

"She told me she's pretty disorientated and can't really remember much,'' he said.

The offender is believed to have taken some money and jewellery.

The woman is staying with a friend in the neighborhood while police check her home for evidence, the neighbour said.

"She's a really nice woman and this is a really terrible thing to have happened to her,'' he said."

Christchurch's Weekend Battleground

Source: Court News, 9 Sept 2008

"Part of central Christchurch is becoming a battleground at the weekend, a judge commented as he dealt with two cases of inner-city anger in court today.

The problem area is around Moorhouse Avenue.

“Saturdays and early Sunday mornings, this area of Christchurch is becoming a battleground,” said Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen Erber.

He signalled that the courts would not treat offenders leniently, after two separate cases came before him, one straight after the other.

In the first case, 19-year-old Matthew Lloyd, now working in Fox Glacier, admitted a charge of wilful damage. There had been words exchanged between his car-load of people and a Toyota. When the car was seen later near the corner of Moorhouse and Fitzgerald Avenues, there were more words and as the other car drove away, Lloyd threw a bottle which smashed the back window.

He told the police he did it because the occupants made him angry.

Lloyd was fined $300 and ordered to pay $140 for the damage.

Reuben Game admitting assaulting a passenger in another car, punching him several times as he sat in the car seat. The 24-year-old glazier also said he did this because the occupants of the other car made him angry.

He was unable to pay a fine, having been declared bankrupt two months ago.

Judge Erber ordered him to do 100 hours of community work and pay for his victim’s $80 medical bill."

Cancer Patients Sent To Australia

Waiting times for radiation therapy in Auckland have become so long that some patients are being sent to Australia for treatment. Readers who know something of the recent history of the NZ health service will know that there has been a dire shortage of radiologists in NZ for quite some time.

Source: NZ Herald, Tues 9 Sept 2008
Cancer patients of Auckland District Health Board are again being sent to Australia for treatment, because the region's radiation therapy waiting times have blown out.

Six have agreed to cross the Ditch for treatment and 11 will go to Waikato Hospital.

The now-usual mix of staff shortages and machinery failures is behind the latest episode of the decade-old problem - plus a big increase in patients needing immediate treatment. The new twist is that while New Zealand's first private radiation therapy clinic may be contributing to the difficulties, it could also help to solve them.

Auckland Radiation Oncology plans to open its Epsom clinic in November.

The health board said yesterday that five of its radiation therapists had been hired by the private clinic and this had contributed to the worsening delays.

The board said waiting times for "low acuity" patients had been four to six weeks for the past year, but were now at least 12 weeks.

Susan - she asked for her real name to be withheld - is one such patient. A 55-year-old who had a partial mastectomy on July 1, she was booked to start radiation therapy this Friday. That would have been just short of eight weeks from when her specialist recommended the treatment.

But last Friday a board official rang to postpone the appointment without stating a new date, and to ask if Susan could go to Waikato Hospital for the 20 doses of radiation.

But she works fulltime and could not spend four weeks in Hamilton at such short notice. Now she is starting to worry about risks from the delay.

"I live in a big city with a big hospital. I expect I should be able to have my treatment in the largest city in New Zealand. There's something wrong when people have to be sent elsewhere to smaller cities or to Australia."

The Health Ministry in 2001 said the maximum wait for "priority C" patients like Susan should be four weeks. Last year it changed this to a target of less than eight weeks.

The board's clinical director of radiation oncology, Dr Andrew Macann, said some therapists had left for personal reasons, such as going overseas. It had hired five since March, but the overall losses, including those to the private clinic, had made it more difficult to meet the suddenly increased need for treatment.

The board would consider contracting the private clinic to treat patients from the public sector.
But even private clinics are struggling to recruit Radiographers:

Pacific Radiology cleared to acquire Wellington Radiology

Dec 20, 2007
The Commerce Commission has cleared Pacific Radiology Limited to acquire all the assets of Wellington Radiology Limited...In the Greater Wellington region, there are only two private providers of radiology services: Wellington Radiology and Pacific Radiology. The acquisition would result in there being only one provider in the region...

Wellington Radiology is owned and operated by two radiologists, one of whom intends to retire. As there is a nationwide shortage of radiologists, Wellington Radiology has been unsuccessful in finding a radiologist to replace the retiring partner...

Because of this, Wellington Radiology has sought to sell its business but has not attracted any offers from outside of the region, despite concerted efforts to do so. This is largely due to the shortage of radiologists.

Consequently the Commission has concluded that the acquisition of Wellington Radiology Ltd by Pacific Radiology Limited would not have, or would not be likely to have, the effect of substantially lessening competition in the market.

A market that seems to be shrinking by the day. It's not just Radiologists that are in short supply, a few months ago this article appeared on One News . It's not just the patients that are going overseas.

Shortage Of Medical Radiation Technologists
Mar 2, 2008
A shortage of medical radiation technologists in the Waikato is causing a major disruption to breast screening services in the region.

The district health board has been struggling to secure enough MRTs, but says the problem's become urgent over the past couple of weeks.

Chief Operating Officer Jan Adams says a competitive international market, an aging workforce and a decline in the amount of new graduates coming out of training is creating the shortages.

She says they're working to recruit people by offering flexible working conditions.

Jan Adams says the shortages aren't affecting other services at this stage.

Bag Snatcher Targetting Women Again

(From a lost post by Luthien)

Source: NZ Herald, 9 Sept 2008
"The bust of a major handbag-snatching ring has not stopped thieves from stealing women's bags in supermarket carparks.

Waitemata police recently carried out a series of raids on the homes of men involved in an Auckland-wide gang that was stealing handbags from the front seats of cars while women loaded their groceries into the boot.

The raids, which involved 30 officers and the execution of 15 search warrants, resulted in nine men being arrested and charged.

Detective Senior Sergeant Stan Brown said the arrests had not put an end to region-wide handbag snatching. At least five more cases had occurred in the past week. One of those was believed to be a copycat crime and the thief has since been arrested. Police are still hunting those behind the other snatchings.Mr Brown said it was too early to say if they were carried out by associates of the original gang or whether other copycats were now at work.
The latest spate of snatchings started in New Lynn last Tuesday but the woman who was loading her groceries had locked her door, meaning the thieves were unable to get to her handbag. Undeterred, they tried again half an hour later at Westgate, where they stole a woman's bag. At 6.30pm they successfully struck again in Otara.
Mr Brown said in all three cases the thieves used stolen cars to make their getaway.
Yesterday, another handbag was stolen from a carpark behind the mall in Henderson.
Mr Brown said it was important people did everything they could to deter thieves, including keeping their handbags with them at all times and making sure car doors were locked. While many of the earlier victims were Asian, Mr Brown said thieves were now indiscriminate in who they targeted.

Police staff involved in last month's handbag raids have recovered dozens of stolen items, which they would like to return to the owners."
Retrieved possessions may be viewed HERE

Monday, September 8, 2008

Deaths From Shortage of Hospital Beds Comparable to Road Deaths

The New Zealand health service continues to operate at breaking point with the number of people dying due to bed shortages being equal to the numbers killed on New Zealand's roads every year.

Source NZ Herald, 8 Sept 2008

The ideal occupancy of inpatient wards is 85 per cent but many New Zealand hospitals run at more than 90 per cent, especially in winter. Waikato Hospital reached 109 per cent last Monday. The college says the core problem is lack of beds and a 15 per cent increase is needed in Australia and New Zealand.

In the Auckland region, a 15 per cent increase would add 315 beds to the present stock of around 2100.

New Zealand's public hospital beds have declined from 2.48 per 1000 people in 1988 to 1.56 in 2006 - largely through reduced lengths of stay and increased efficiencies like day surgery.

When Auckland City Hospital opened in 2003, amalgamating four hospitals, doctors criticised the 7 per cent reduction in beds. At around 1000 , it is still slightly below the 1062 before amalgamation.

The Waitemata District Health Board will have added 68 beds by the end of this month and plans 300 more by 2013.

Overcrowded emergency departments lead to worse outcomes because of factors like delays in starting antibiotics for pneumonia, delayed heart-attack care and patients simply being overlooked because they are on a trolley in a corridor. Auckland City Hospital no longer permits patients to wait in ED corridors because of this risk.

Little seems to be being done to alleviate the many problems the health service suffers from , even though this is an election year and Labour votes are crucial if they are to remain in power.

On Friday of last week a press report cited difficulties in hiring and retaining nurses for a cardiothoracic and vascular intensive care unit and loss of "surgeon confidence" (because of problems with a clinical computer system and sterilisation of surgical instruments) causing a 2o decrease in cardiac surgery in Auckland. Bypass operations at Auckland City Hospital are down from 641 five years ago to 454 in the last financial year.

New Zealand Behind the Developed World

Far from having a centre of cardiac excellence, New Zealand now has a low rate of state-funded bypass and valve replacement surgery by comparison with other developed countries, and New Zealanders' risk of dying with diagnosed cardio-vascular disease is now 35 per cent greater than Australians' risk.

Source: NZ Herald Fri Sept 5, 2008

The following comments appeared in the Herald's "Your Views"

"This government has run down the health system so badly. My cardiologist told me the wait was 3 months for my semi-urgent surgery. Labour then came into office and 2 years later I got the call!

This country needs more medical staff - pay higher rates so they stay here in the first place. Operating theatres need to be working around the clock - 24 hours per day.
There needs to be less paper pushing in the health system and more operations performed. Quite simple really - why is it so hard to do?

The fact some ill patients have to go to Australia to be treated is not only more expensive, but an appalling concept.

This Labour government has no respect for the New Zealand people. Helen Clark would rather see more taxpayers money funding government television ads and her election campaigns (yes - that's her latest proposal!) than assisting the health of New Zealanders. She is a disgrace."

"..I've seen time and time again my patients die while waiting as an inpatient in a peripheral hospital on a urgent waiting list for either bypass or valve replacement. I'm sure the CCU and ICU staffs are doing a terrific job with limited resources.
But I've lost hope with this labour govt and the health system. Some comments are quite right, if you're unlucky enough to have a cardiac condition Australia is definitely a better place to get treatment than in NZ. On the bright side I'm working in Aussie now, hoping the next govt (National) will do better than the current one."

"Auckland is not the only area with problems-I am in Tauranga and last year had an (urgent) triple bypass-when my condition worsened, Tauranga hospitals response? It can be dealt with by "tablet therapy" (whatever that is)-my solution-I paid for it to be done in Auckland (and the result was fantastic)-frankly give me Auckland over Tauranga any day"

"The CVICU is very short staffed which is having a significant impact on heart surgery.but so is the rest of ACH! The usual scenario is when heart surgery is cancelled for reasons other than short staffing in the ICU, the ICU staff are then redeployed around the hospital because The rest of the hospital is staffing critical! Than means the ICU staff get a double wammy.they work their backsides off, many doing extra shifts make what little heart surgery that does happen actually happen, then when there is a slow down, they are sent to other wards to work! This is one of the primary reasons the nurses leave but yet it still goes on!"

Tourist's Sex Attacker In Court

Another serious assault on a back packer has been highlighted in a trial in Masterton, South Island today. The incident is yet another illustration of the dangers that tourists continue to face in New Zealand and which they seem to be unaware of.

Source: Stuff, Mon 8 Sept, 2008
"A young Australian tourist thought a teenager was being friendly and helpful in offering to show her back to her backpackers, before he launched a brutal sex attack on her, a court was told today.

Maia Crawford Rongonui, 18, of Masterton, went on trial in Christchurch District Court today over allegations that he assaulted the woman with intent to sexually violate her, and sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection.

He denied both charges before Judge Jane Farish and a jury, at a trial expected to last four days."

Guilty verdict

Sunday, September 7, 2008

British Migrants Robbed

Source:NZ Herald, Monday August 25, 2008

"An English family who came to New Zealand to make a fresh start were left with only the clothes on their backs when their motel was burgled two days after they arrived.

Dawn and Conrad Tutin and their children Stephanie, 14, and Kiel, 12, arrived from Nottingham a week ago to begin a new life in Auckland, where Mr Tutin will work for Fisher & Paykel.

But last Wednesday, while they were out house-hunting, their room at the Takanini Motor Lodge was plundered of virtually everything they had brought with them.

"We were feeling really good because we'd found a house and we came back and felt the air rushing through the room ... The children were the first to realise what had happened," Mrs Tutin said.

The thieves took passports, visas, two laptops and photos as well as clothing.

Even cuddly toys made by friends and gifts for another daughter back in England were taken.

Mrs Tutin valued the loss at more than $25,000.

"It was heartbreaking. We'd just secured a home and then that happened."

The thieves are thought to have got into the motel room through a door that opens onto a busy road.

Some of the Tutins' belongings were found strewn outside, partly in a bedcover that was used to carry items away.

"We were just thinking, 'Why us ... why that particular place?'" Mrs Tutin said.

"Nothing from the motel was stolen, just our stuff - they were intent on stealing everything."

Mrs Tutin suspects their arrival back at the motel disturbed the burglars, and said that was just as disturbing as the theft itself.

They didn't spend another night in the room. Instead, they went to an inner-city hotel where they asked to be in a room off ground level.

"We just felt so vulnerable. The children wouldn't stay [in the motel] another night."

After the theft, the family had to go shopping for replacements - a mission none of them enjoyed.

"You can't go to one place to get everything you've lost," Mrs Tutin said.

They are appealing for anyone who knows anything about the theft to contact police so they can get some of their belongings back.

"We don't care about the clothes and stuff, it's just the sentimental stuff we really want back."

But the theft hasn't put them off living in New Zealand.

"People have been absolutely lovely," said Mrs Tutin. "It was just our bad luck."

"Luck" really didn't come into it, the family were staying in South Auckland, one of Auckland's warmest crime hot spots. Here's hoping that the remainder of their time in the country is more successful

Killing in Dairy No Surprise to Police

Source: The Indian News Jan 27, 2008

Police say violent aggravated robberies occur so frequently in Auckland that they are not surprised someone has been killed.

A 22-year-old man was stabbed to death yesterday in an apparent robbery of his parents' South Auckland dairy.

The officer in charge of the Counties-Manukau crime squad - the team of officers immediately called to investigate all serious crime - Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Gutry, told the Weekend Herald last night that he was not surprised by yesterday's death.

He has worked in the area for 21 years and said robberies and violence had been going on there for years, and teenage boys were often to blame.

"It would not be unusual to have one or two of these robberies of dairies or similar liquor stores or service stations each day. A lot of the offenders are young teenage males that really, for the effort that goes in, get very little in return - it's usually cash or cigarettes or liquor, that sort of thing.

"We've had people shot in dairies, there was a guy killed in a liquor store in Manurewa, stabbed in a robbery several years ago. It's happened before. It doesn't take much for it to become violent and it's certainly no surprise that someone's died today."

Mr Gutry said South Auckland was not the only place where the violence was occurring - Auckland City reports aggravated robberies (defined as theft accompanied by violence) most days and the North Shore about every fortnight.

While police worked hard with teams focused on problem youths and at-risk families, he said, they could not prevent all violence and society needed to take stock of the problem.

Wanted and On The Run

Source: NZ Herald, Sun September 07, 2008

Hundreds of criminals are "on the run" in New Zealand with warrants out for offenders either failing to appear at court or for evading arrest warrants.

A few months back Auckland police pulled out all the stops to arrest 3000 people in the region who'd failed to appear in court, using name and shame techniques in the NZ Herald and TV show Police 10-7. The operation had some degree of success and 963 people were arrested.

In July Rotorua police launched a campaign in conjunction with the City Post newspaper to round up over 100 offenders, by the end of August over 50 people had been located. Link: Daily Post, July 26, 2008

Last month the Gisborne Herald also launched a campaign to
name and shame it's most wanted criminals. link:
Gisborne's 9 most wanted


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