"References to gang violence and crime on Palmerston North's Wikipedia page have seen overseas investors and professionals shy away from the city.
The Palmerston North page on Wikipedia a volunteer online encyclopedia features a crime sub-heading that mentions the 2002 gang violence in Highbury, including the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Black Power associate Wallace Whatuira.
While there were gang issues between Mongrel Mob and Black Power gang members in the early 2000s, the suburb has since experienced drops in crime, unemployment and gang activity.
The Wikipedia pages of other New Zealand cities, such as Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Tauranga, Dunedin and Christchurch, do not contain crime sections.
Even Wanganui, where 2-year-old Jhia Te Tua was shot dead during a 2007 gang dispute, does not have any mention of "gang troubles" on its Wikipedia page.
MidCentral Health medical recruitment consultant Christine Wood said there had been two cases where doctors, one from Israel and another from Germany, had declined work in Palmerston North after looking the city up on Wikipedia.
"Obviously it [Wikipedia] googles quite well, so if they are looking for Palmerston North from Europe or the Middle East, it will come up.
"Usually they've decided to come to New Zealand, but it's about where.
"If you were making a choice between Palmerston North, and for the sake of argument, Hamilton, on seeing that you'd think, `oh it's got a problem, I don't want to go there'."
Mrs Wood said while some overseas doctors were still coming to Palmerston North, the city did not need any further recruitment hurdles. She approached Palmerston North City Council staff last week to see if they could alter the page's content.
City council executive support general manager Jane Julian said the council had altered some unsubstantiated claims and deleted a gang subheading on the page."
I've looked at Wikipedia and all guess what - all the references to crime in Palmy had gone. Problem solved.....no more crime Palmerston North! (edit. The "crime" sub heading was later restored and the page is now under dispute)
Ok, so reported crime levels per capita may have dropped in the town and some of the Wiki entries were out of date. But is there still a crime problem that migrants should be aware of if they're to make an informed decision before living there, and are gangs more of an issue in Palmy than elsewhere in NZ -something that doctors may be interested in knowing about.
When I checked the Statistics NZ website recently I found the number of recorded violent crimes in Palmy's City Area had increased from 787 in 1999 to 1093 in 2008, and from 794 to 1145 in the rural area. That's an overall increase in violent crime for the two areas combined of around 40 %.
During that same period figures for other crimes had pretty much stayed the same, some had even declined (property abuse, drugs and antisocial)
So is rising violent crime an issue in Palmy?
A quick search on inform.com yielded:*No need for city walls just yet - Manawatu Standard, New Zealand
"There was a drive-by shooting in Palmerston North this week. Shots were fired at a man outside the The Mill bottle store on Grey St on …"
(view the video "Palmerston North locals fear gang war")
Seizing cars won’t curb behaviour - Manawatu Standard, New Zealand
"We love to hate them. It is difficult to identify a group in society more widely loathed than boy racers. Public derision of them has … "
"Palmerston North moteliers are fed up with boy racers disturbing guests, with at least one motel owner saying the noise has made some rooms uninhabitable."
Sex attacker still on loose - Manawatu Standard, New Zealand
"Palmerston North police are still searching for the man who sexually assaulted a woman on Fitzherbert Ave last month. . . The woman, a 22-year-old …"
"The woman, a 22-year-old student, was walking towards College St about 3.30am on May 22 when she was pulled into bushes near Chaytor St, and sexually assaulted."
Doco makes fresh claims in Lundy - TVNZ.co.nz
"More than eight years since the crimes, there are fresh claims as to how convicted double murderer Mark Lundy killed his wife and daughter.. …"
And here's a recent reference to an Armed Offenders Squad call out:
11 June 2009
"Police say no arrests have been made after reports of two men carrying a gun prompted an AOS call out in Palmerston North today.
The armed offenders squad were called out about 10.30am after a member of the public reported two men walking along Parata Street with firearm, Central Districts police spokeswoman Kim Perks said.
Police cordoned off the area, searched a house on the corner of Parata St and Anderson St, but did not find the alleged offenders or a firearm.
No one was injured and no arrests were made, she said.
She would not confirm reports, which said the house was a gang house.
Ms Perks said the incident did not appear to be connected to shots fired in Palmerston North on Monday, which police said might have been gang related."
To base a decision purely on a Wikipedia entry is rather myopic, there is a wealth of information on the net and this censoring incident just underlines the need to do as much research as possible and from a wide variety of sources.