Saturday, September 12, 2009

Riot At Dunedin Undie 500

"Dunedin police were forced to don riot gear and use pepper spray to disperse student mobs during overnight partying after the controversial Undie 500 rally arrived in the city.

About 20 were arrested after more than 600 people pelted officers with bottles, bricks and bicycle parts in the student stronghold of North Dunedin.

The 70 officers took about two hours to disperse the students.

The annual Undie 500 event, organised by Canterbury University engineering students, involves a pub crawl from Christchurch to Dunedin, in cars worth under $500.

The event has previously caused headaches for Dunedin police left to control riotous behaviour at the end of the trip.

Last year's official Undie 500 was cancelled after rioting in the city resulted in 69 arrests the previous year.

However, an unofficial version of the event still ran and 30 arrests were made after another round of disorder.

Most of last night's action centred in the three blocks around Castle Street, with mobs setting furniture and piles of rubbish on fire in Castle and Leith streets, Dunedin Area Commander Inspector Dave Campbell said.

One officer was hit in the head and knocked down with a hurled bottle, and would have been seriously injured if not for his helmet, he said.

Flying bottles hit two or three other people, who had to be taken away by ambulance for treatment.

Mr Campbell said there would be a boosted police presence this weekend and anyone arrested would gain a criminal record, due to a no-diversion policy.......more here"

Good grief! these are supposedly the elite, most intelligent and able young people on which the future prosperity of New Zealand depends. Heaven help us all, have they nothing better to do? And as for the billion dollar, international student market what right thinking family is going to chose to invest in sending their kids to such a place?

A number of residents were injured during the riot when they were caught in cross fire between the students and police. The city's mayor believes the rioting is symptomatic of the harm alcohol is doing to society

Friday, September 11, 2009

Two Australian Tourists Robbed At Knife Point In Te Puke

Two Australian tourists were robbed at knife point in Te Puke yesterday only hours after they'd arrived from Melbourne. The attack is just the latest of a number of brazen attacks on visitors to New Zealand who are often seen as easy targets. See other blog posts about tourist attacks in New Zealand and tourist warnings that have been issued

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NZHerald 11 Sept 09

"A teenager armed with a knife mugged two Australian tourists in Te Puke yesterday, taking money intended for their Tauranga holiday.

The men had arrived from Melbourne on Wednesday.

They were sitting in their rental car in a car park on the corner of State Highway 2 and Boucher Ave between midday and 2pm when they were robbed, Te Puke police said.

The men were eating lunch bought from a local bakery before they planned to visit some local tourist attractions.

The youth showed them a knife and demanded money.

The cash they handed over had been intended for the short time the tourists planned to holiday in Tauranga, police said.

The youth had been seen with a group of teenagers with two bicycles near the bakery beforehand.

He was described as Maori, about 16 or 17 years old and of solid build. He was wearing a light coloured hoodie, dark blue jeans and a dark cap."

English Man Attacked And Robbed In New Plymouth

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from YahooXtraNews 10 Sept 09

"A young Englishman was attacked and robbed when he stopped his car to answer a cellphone call in New Plymouth early today.

The 23-year-old man pulled over and got out of his car in Devon Street West about 12.30am to take the call when he was hit from behind.

His attacker, thought to be a Pakeha aged between 18 and 25, held the man down with a foot on his back while he robbed him, New Plymouth police Constable Hannah Pulotu told NZPA.

She said the victim had his glasses knocked off and didn't get a good description of his attacker.

"The only thing he saw of him was when he got back in his car and saw him running off in his rear vision mirror."

He was not seriously hurt, suffering a cut above his eye when his head hit the pavement.

The man, who lives in New Zealand, had his wallet and passport taken."

Auckland's Toxic Beaches - 3 More Sick Dogs

A warning sign on a North Shore Beach, Rangitoto Island in the background. Click to enlarge.

Just when you thought it was 'safe' to go back in the water 3 more dogs have shown symptoms of poisoning after visiting beaches in the North Shore area of Auckland. Warnings signs like the one above appeared on most North Shore beaches advising people not to take dogs or children onto the beaches until they were (prematurely?) removed only 11 days ago.

As yet we have no news on the results of tests for 'rat poison' there were supposed to have been carried out on a number of dead dolphins from the area. The islands of Rangitoto and Motu were recently bombarded with toxins to wipe out pests. A comment from a marine biologist about bait in the intertidal zone was left on this blog - see link

One news report today about the current poisoning stated:
"Three more sick dogs have prompted Auckland health authorities to renew warnings to take care on the city's beaches.

The seriously ill dogs showed symptoms of tetrodotoxin poisoning.

One dog became ill after walking on Narrow Neck beach and another two became sick after walking on Takapuna beach. Authorities believe they they have the same toxin that killed five dogs and made at least 10 others ill last month.(Ed. this has yet to be confirmed)

The toxin, found in vomit from one of the dead dogs, is known as TTX and was traced to sea slugs found on Cheltenham and Narrow Neck beaches in Devonport.

"If you go back to the beach please, please keep children and pets under close supervision," said Auckland Regional Public Health Service spokeswoman Sally Young.

Emergency doctors have been advised that the TTX found in one small slug on Narrow Neck beach could, if eaten, be enough to kill a dog or a child."
No news yet as to whether the original warning signs (see photo above) will be re-erected, it's a difficult choice to be made now that summer is on its way and pressure is on for people to use the beaches freely, one may only hope that a child does not fall ill, or worse.

For the background to this story please see blog posts:
Questions surround DOC poison drops
Sea Life deaths continue in Hauraki Gulf - spike in dolphin deaths
Auckland beaches' poison - another 30 dogs sick, sea slugs poisoned, dog death in Stanmore Bay.
Mass poison drops scheduled to wipe out pests (first published 24 June 09)

Emily Jordan's Father Writes To John Key: Safety Regulations Are "Third World"

from The Birmingham Mail, UK. 9 Sept 09

"The father of a young Midland tourist who died during a river adventure trip in New Zealand has pleaded with the country’s prime minister to make extreme sports safer.

Law graduate Emily Jordan, from Worcestershire, drowned on a “river boarding” excursion after guides failed to take safety measures.

The operators were fined just £27,600 after admitting that they had failed to secure the safety of their customers.

Emily’s father, Chris Jordan, has now written to New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to ask him to prevent future deaths by tightening up regulations, which he says are no better than the Third World.

Mr Jordan also described the fine given to the owners of Mad Dog River Boarding as an “insult"

“The laws in place at the moment aren’t the right vehicle to be regulating this sort of activity and they are not being regulated in any case,” he said. “People are going to New Zealand and expecting that it will be regulated like a western country but that really isn’t the case.

There needs to be high quality and up-front checks on firms like this, but instead authorities only react when there is an incident.

I’m not doing this as some sort of vendetta against these companies, but I want to protect tourists and their families from the sort of pain and grief we’ve gone through.

“I know these activities are going to continue and there are going to be accidents, but even a basic level of safety would have saved Emily.”

Emily, aged 21, from Trimpley, Worcestershire, was riding a body board on fast-flowing rapids when she became trapped in the Kawarau River Gorge on New Zealand’s South Island in April last year.
Ms Jordan was trapped underwater for 20 minutes until another boat carrying ropes arrived and freed her body.

Mad Dog River Boarding company director Brad McLeod pleaded guilty to charges of failing to take steps to protect customers and failing to protect employees last month.
The firm could have been fined up to 250,000 New Zealand dollars (£102,000) for each charge, but was ordered to pay just 66,000 dollars and £33,500 in compensation to the family.

(Ed. Despite presenting a very strong case the prosecution agreed a deal and dropped 4 of the 6 charges, including 3 against the company director, before the defence presented its case. The company then pleaded guilty to the remaining 2 charges. During the trial it was alleged that the company was operating in a "regulatory vacuum" and the suspicion is 4 of the charges were dropped in order to avoid further examining this accusation and to avoid the embarrassment it would've caused. The case was neatly wrapped up just days before the announcement that Key was to appear on the Letterman show to promote NZ tourism . Quote:
"In his second day in the witness box, Mad Dog River Boarding then-operations manager Nicholas Kendrick told Queenstown District Court the company was operating without specific governing regulations, as they hadn't yet been created." source) )

In his letter to Mr Key, Mr Jordan explains that he has spent 16 months investigating the way that extreme sports firms are regulated in New Zealand and was “appalled” at what he had found.
He urges Mr Key: “It is vital that more young people do not die in this way. It is a tragic, unnecessary waste and they leave many grieving people behind for whom life is forever changed.

“This situation is damaging New Zealand’s reputation worldwide.

Outdoor pursuits are due to start again in New Zealand later this month during the summer tourist season."

An inquest has yet to be held into Emily's death. The trial was one of at least six prosecutions brought this year in NZ in connection with the deaths of 12 people in 'adventure' related activities.

For more posts on about this case and NZ please see the link "Emily Jordan" at the top of this page

Stan Seijka Killed In NZ Skiing Accident

Stan Seijka, a highly regarded neurologist from the Australian state of Tasmania has died from his injuries after a fall at the Porters Ski area near Canterbury, South Island yesterday.

Dr Seijka's death will come as a major blow to medical services in the state where he almost singlehandedly provided the neurology services. He was a highly regarded professional and his loss will be keenly felt both by his colleagues, patients, family and friends.

His death is the latest in a number of fatal skiing accidents that have occurred during the present season in New Zealand.

An experienced heli-skiing guide with Alpine Guides was killed in an avalanche in Methven on 14August. Almost a month earlier on 24 July an Australian tourist, Llynden Riethmuller, died in an avalanche whilst skiing with the same company, in the same area.

On 4 August Ryan Manu Campbell, a snow boarder,  died after an avalanche swept him into a gully near the Coronet Peak skiifield.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Trial For Libby Templeman's Murder - Date Set

An 8 February 2010 date has been set for the trial of a youth accused of the murder of British schoolgirl Libby Templeman in Kerikeri last year.

The youth, who was aged 14 at the time of Libby's death, is accused of indecent assault and murder.

The trial's scheduled for a 3 week period.

For background see blog post : British schoolgirl murdered in Kerikieri

French Tourist's Rapist Is Found Guilty

The man who raped a French tourist at gunpoint in May (see foot of this link) was found guilty yesterday.

Teiro Ngaa Kitai, a scrap metal dealer, pleaded guilty yesterday on three charges of sexually violating the 24 year old experienced traveller who had safely hitched his way through Australia and Canada without incident.

The attack took place near Opotiki, the small town where an Asian visitor was raped in her bedroom by two teenagers who invaded the home she was staying in (see blog post) Two youths are now in custody.

Predictably the two attacks, and the attacks on a group of 3 Chinese tourists at the base of 90 Mile Beach and French citizen Anthony Cressend at a Northland campsite, have re-ignited the debate about New Zealand's violent image abroad.

As more and more visitors are beaten, raped and robbed the country is rapidly gaining an embarrassing and notorious international reputation as somewhere that is not as safe as it would like to think it is. The attacks also come in a year when 6 prosecutions relating to safety breaches in 12 fatalities related to adventure tourism activities (4 of them foreign nationals) work their way through the court system.

Figures comparing the country's very poor crime statistics to the rest of the developed world may be found under the Stats link at the top of this page.

The NZHerald has again invited its readers to answer its longstanding question "Is increased violence damaging NZ's image abroad?" here are some of the recent reader responses:

Stanley (North Shore)
Monday August 24, 2009 I was attacked in the road rage incident in 2006 on the quiet street at North Shore when I reported the attack at local Police station that night, since then I have not heard from Police.

But since nobody was seriously heart as I have used my best defense back in time, my feet Lol however I have to say naive the person thinking there is no crime in NZ

Why NZ is different from other countries? Surely not much crime but it is exist and yes it is damaging our image a little.

Gangs and drugs ad disorderly conduct of some youngsters is a problem here for sure.
Ryansway (Wellington City)
Tuesday August 4, 2009
This weekend in Wellington, a 14 yr old girl bashed for her handbag by two older hood-clad street girls, and a 20 yr old lady subjected to a cowardly sexual assault by a hood-clad male. Both victims were "soft targets", and thats a phrase that rings all too familiar these days because the perpetrators are low-life cowards!

There are notable statistics relating to crime that need to be addressed without shying away from those too ignorant to accept the truth. Our society cannot continue to tolderate those who wish to reign terror and anarchy on the majority of law abiding citizens.

We cannot continue to tolerate pockets of society who believe the laws of this country do not apply to them so that they are free to commit cowardly crimes without fear of moral consequence or accountability. There must be an end-game to this proliferating pattern of offending that has plagued this country increasingly this past decade.

The time has arrived to break the chains of political correctness to examine the roots of criminal offending. This country is in dire need of law and order, and our society must be free to explore all possible causes and solutions by addressing them openly and honestly.
Kiwigirl (China)
Tuesday August 4, 2009 I can not believe the attitude of Dolly! Its this sort of thinking that makes NZ what it is.
I lived most of my life in NZ and didnt realise just how dangerous it is until I came to live overseas.

Every day I read the Herald and am appalled at whats going on at home. I walk the streets here at night, often on my own, and have never felt safer. This is not something I would ever have contemplated doing in NZ. I talk to people who want to travel to NZ and they are shocked when I tell them of the violence and,

Yes they do need to know before they come so that they dont fall into the traps that many tourists find themselves in. I am in the tourism industry and find it embarressing having to put people straight when all they hear about is how wonderful the people are in NZ. We used to be a great country and we are allowing a small element to dictate to us and its got to stop people! Come on lets make NZ great again.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Prosecutions Brought For Adventure Deaths And Injuries In NZ This Year

So far we are aware of at least 7 prosecutions that have been brought this year for 12 fatalities and one injury related to adventure tourism related activities in New Zealand. At present it is unclear if the number is so high because of an increase in the number of these types of fatalities, or whether it is indicative of a more hard line approach by the enforcement agencies in an effort to improve safety standards within the industry.

Cases year in court this year relate to the deaths or injuries of:
Paul Woods - A British general surgeon at Dunedin Hospital died when the jet boat he was a passenger in flipped after hitting a gravel bank in the Matukituki River. His partner Dr Leanne Tonney and her brother Dave were injured in the crash. The boat was privately owned.
Yan Wang - A Chinese tourist died when the jet boat she was a passenger in flipped at the confluence of the Shotover and Kawarau rivers. The company involved was 'Kawarau Jet'. 7 other people were injured.
Sarah Katie Bond - A British tourist who died from her injuries during a quad bike trek run by 'Waitomo Big Red' 30km west of Waitomo Caves last August.
Emily Jordan - A British tourist who drowned whilst riverboarding with 'Mad Dog River Boarding' on the Kawarau river. The company was fined NZ$66,000. (US$46,000)
Catherine Peters - A New Zealand university student who died from her injuries after falling from the Ballance Bridge Swing.
Six students and a teacher - Died in a canyoning exercise with the Sir Edmund Hilary Outdoor Centre, the centre was fined NZ$44,000.
Rosemary Berry, a semi retired Australian tourist broke an arm and shoulder whilst skiing and sustained other injuries after she fell over an metal track left in the snow at the Cardrona Ski Resort. The company subsequently tried to appeal against its conviction of fines and costs totalling almost $60,000.

Child Youth And Family Staff Told They Are The Minister's 'Servants'

Can you imagine receiving this email prior to a visit by your top boss?
"It is not appropriate for staff to pour their hearts and souls out to the minister. "This is a formal visit and she is not your 'friend'. It's a bit like the relationship between a servant and a master, ie the servant knows their place. She should not be presented with the woes of the office, or lack of resources, or anything like that."
This is what the staff of Kaitaia's Child, Youth and Family (CYF) office were allegedly presented with a day before a visit by Paula Bennett the Social Development minister (Ms Bennett is the minister who recently released private details of two single mothers' benefit payments)

It is alleged the instructions were detailed in an email from a manager within CFY and were copied to Annette King, deputy leader of the Labour party.

It makes one wonder how the minister can ever stand a chance of forming an accurate impression of CFYs if the employees are gagged like this. Is restricting information and workplace bullying endemic in NZ workplaces?

Some will remember the long running stoush ACC has been embroiled in over its "bullying culture", excessive workloads and "dictatorial management approach."
Immigration NZ was also criticised by the Auditor General for being a "siloed organisation" where people didn't talk to each other, with "poor management practices". Staff were let down by a "dysfunctional organisation" and didn't feel that it was an "environment in which they can raise concerns further up the chain."

The evidence isn't looking good.

Annette King has her concerns too about CFY too:
"Ms King said there were wider problems of the Government blocking information and communication and said she was frustrated by poor responses to written questions and Official Information Act requests. She had also struggled to get permission to visit CYF offices."
In March Family First issued a press release stating that CYF was "failing miserably" and called for an independent CYF complaints authority:
"Family First NZ says that figures obtained from the Ministry of Social Development under the Official Information Act show that the CYF Complaints Authority is failing its job, that the Ministry has done virtually nothing to make people aware of its existence, and that CYF remains unaccountable.

According to the previous Minister for Social Development and Employment Ruth Dyson in response to our request for information last year, a pitiful $14,000 had been spent on brochures and some posters for distribution around CYF offices to advertise the Complaints Authority, and no additional training has been given to frontline staff in terms of referring clients to the Authority.

And the Ministry of Social Development has informed Family First this week that only three written complaints have been made since the Authority was established in July 2008.

“Family First is being regularly contacted by families who claim to have been unfairly treated by CYF social workers - yet they have no independent body to appeal to,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ. “Their only option is a costly court process where CYFS have an unlimited pool of resources to defend its actions, courtesy of the taxpayer.”

“This is grossly unfair when families are being ripped apart, often just based on the subjective judgment of a social worker. The recent response to the CYFSWatch website shows just how deep-seated the concern is.”

“An independent CYF Complaints Authority is in the best interests of the social workers,” says Mr McCoskrie, “as it will provide an independent body to ensure that appropriate policy and procedures have been followed. This will result in public confidence and accountability for actions and decisions by CYF workers.”

“There is a Health and Disability Commissioner, a Police Complaints Authority, even a Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal. We desperately need an independent body to hear complaints about the highly sensitive nature of intervening in families.”

“The Advisory Panel being adopted by the Ministry of Social Development has the inherent flaw of not being independent, and the Chief Executive still has the final decision as to the success of the complaint. This is unacceptable.”

Family First calls on all MP’s, the majority who will have received anecdotal evidence of claims of unfair treatment by CYFS, to support the urgent establishment of an independent CYF Complaint Authority." Link

Hamilton "Boring", Springbok Tour. World Cup Bed Shortage (Updated)

Boks steer clear of 'boring' Hamilton
"The Springboks have heeded the advice of former Australian rugby fullback Chris Latham by avoiding Hamilton for as long as possible - to escape boredom.
The South Africans won't fly from their Gold Coast base in Queensland until Thursday, landing 48 hours out from the Tri-Nations test against the All Blacks at Waikato Stadium.
Coach Peter de Villiers expressed concern that his players would suffer from apathy as "there is nothing in Hamilton".

"Hotel fatigue can kick in and the guys can lose interest very quickly and they might start thinking of going home already," De Villiers told reporters in Australia.

"So I decided to bring them here (Surfers Paradise) to keep them interested so that they can be fresh when we get to New Zealand on Thursday. We will only know afterwards if we did the right or wrong thing."

De Villiers may have tuned in to the three-year-old comments made by Latham after his Queensland Reds side heavily lost a Super 14 match to the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Latham said the culprit was pre-match boredom, with players having spent much of the buildup lazing in their hotel rooms, "in what would not be the world's most exciting town".

"If we were here in sunny Brisbane, there's a lot of things to do and a lot of places to go and get out and get motivated and get moving...." Read the rest of the story

Hamilton is already on standby ahead of the test match. A number of world cup officials will be in the town for the game and police are already issuing advice to fans to be on their guard against opportunistic crime as the town prepares for its test match vetting.

Accommodation shortage and price gouging
It will be interesting to see how many world cup fans will decide to do the same in 2011 and fly-in for specific matches, especially as there is a reported lack of accommodation in many of the match locations. Trans-Tasman travel is destined to become cheaper soon with the introduction of 'domestic' flights between NZ and Australia. See New Zealand may fall short of world cup beds (Travelmole)

Some homeowners have already been warned not to hike prices, executive homes near Eden Park are rumoured to be going for $4,000-$5,000 during the week of the final. Final tickets are estimated to cost $800 dollars and New Zealanders are already being offered 6 month buy-now-pay-later schemes.

The following day the Hamilton PR effort bounced back and Waikato Rugby Union chief executive Graham Bowen tried to promote attractions such as the Waitomo caves (much loved by David Attenborough) Raglan's surf breaks and Rotorua, about an hour and a half away.

The mayor, Bob Simcock, still couldn't resist a swift poke at the Boks' collective eye though by saying "To be honest, if the Springboks were in the streets of Hamilton they probably wouldn't feel that welcome anyway." Well who can blame them for staying away?!

It's going to be an interesting match. All of the 31,557 tickets for the game, the first Bok v. AB meet on Mooloo territory, have been sold.

You many like: NZHerald - 'Where is the most boring place in NZ?' - reader's comments

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"We're Not A Murder Capital" - Christchurch Mayor (Updated)

from Newstalk ZB
08/09/2009 7:56:01
"Christchurch's reputation as a 'murder capital' is being debunked by its mayor.
There were three murders in the city last month. In the most recent, a 32-year old man has been charged with the murder of his wife after two bodies were found under a house in the suburb of Wainoni. One body is believed to be that of Tisha Lowry, who has been missing for almost a year.
Mayor Bob Parker says unfortunately perception is everything but statistics show that Christchurch is actually New Zealand's safest large city per 10,000 of population.
"The truth is, these crimes are being committed in greater numbers across New Zealand and in other similar-sized cities. So, we're no worse. We're a little bit better off but we still need to get better and that's the focus of council."
Mr Parker says he is still deeply concerned about what has been happening."
And so he should. Trying to excuse the city's appalling record by saying other places are worse is simply an avoidance of responsibility. Will people in the city rest easier knowing that there are places worse than Christchurch and will the families and friends of the victims feel better knowing this is how their deaths are to be dismissed?

One Christchurch street has just suffered its third violent death in four months.

There have been five bodies in six weeks, prompting a Sunday Star Times reporter to visit the city to examine its 'Underbelly' reputation. His article contains remarkably frank quotes from Canterbury University sociology lecturer Greg Newbold: " "There's a big nutcase factor down here, it's part of the character of the city" and goes on to add "(Newbold) says there is something different about the city's underclass, and the types of homicides committed by those within it, drawing a distinction between a typical city murder domestic or gang-related and the "nutty, flaky murders, killing prostitutes and stuff", that tend to occur in small towns."

It's well worth the read if you have any interest in Christchurch, or just small town NZ life in general

See also:
"Crime city Christchurch too scary for women" The Press newspaper report, Juyl 08

Recent violent deaths in Christchurch (including 4 people under 18 years old)
* 2 women recently found buried beneath a house in Wainoni
* Mellory Manning beaten, stabbed, stangled and dumped in the Avon River
* Andre James Delamare died after being stabbed in Phillipstown
* Tala Seleni, 55, and Melissa Nina Adcock, 32, were found dead from gunshot wounds in a Linwood council flat
* Timothy Constable died from stab wounds on a Christchurch street
* 15 year old Marie Davis raped and murdered by a convicted rapist
* 16-year-old Sean Martin William Philip Finnerty-Gallagher bashed and died in Christchurch
* Deaf woman Emma Agnew, murdered and dumped in Spencer Park
* Taxi driver Abdulrahman Ikhtiari stabbed to death in central Christhchurch.
* Kerry Leigh Downey, 52, strangled and dumped on the Port Hills
* Lipine Sila deliberately drove into a crowd of partygoers, killed two young girls Hannah Rossiter (16) and Jane Young (16) and badly injured eight others

What the statistics say - Homicides by area for 2007, 2008 (source statistics NZ)
Central Auckland: 7, 9 (16)
Dunedin Area: 6, 4 (10)
Christchurch Central Area: 5, 4 (9)
Rotorua Area: 5, 4 (9)
New Plymouth Area: 2, 6 (8)
Wanganui area: 1, 5 (6)
Whangarei Area: 3, 1 (4)
Nelson Bays: 2, 2 (4)
Taupo Area: 1, 2 (3)
Wellington Area: 2, 1 (3)
North Shore Area: 1, 1 (2)
Total homicides in NZ: 88, 109 (197)

Bag Snatch in Hamilton, Woman Assaulted

It's been a while since we've reported on a bag snatch but we got to hear of a particularly nasty incident yesterday in Hamilton at the Te Rapa car park at around 12.40 in the afternoon.

An Asian woman was beaten to the ground and her bag stolen by a gang of 4 thugs. A store manager followed them and they were later rounded-up by police at a KFC restaurant.

The four men were said to be aged between 17-21 years old.

Last year there were some really violent assaults on women who were also robbed of their handbags - this type of crime was so frequent it was getting to epidemic proportions. Asian women are often the target as they are perceived as being more affluent and easy to overcome.

In one assault the victim was dragged along behind her attackers' car and in another young mother  Joanne Wang was killed in front of her son in the Manukau Westfield shopping centre.

A police pursuit of an alleged bag thief on an Auckland motorway in January ended with armed police shooting dead an innocent motorist who was caught in crossfire, but no officers were prosecuted after the incident.

See other blog posts here: Handbag snatches

Sunday, September 6, 2009

New Zealand's 25 Cromwell Street

"You can smell the death, I was dry retching. The smell is horrific."
Two bodies have been found beneath a house in Christchurch and the 32 year old owner of the property has been charged with murder. The deceased are thought to be the wife of the accused and Trisha Lowry, a neighbour who went missing a year ago.

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The Herald has published an account by a neighbour Shanita Araipu who once rented the house from the accused and his wife whilst they were away for a year. The article states that Ms Araipu said that the property was covered in bloodstains
"Every single room had damage. There were holes in the walls and none of the doors had door handles except the cupboard where the manhole is," she said. "There were bloodstains on the ground - they were covered with rubbish. There was a lot of blood on one of the bedroom floors - and spattered on door frames. It was before Tisha went missing though."

When she complained about the state that the house was in the owner told her it was from the dog but questions are bound to be asked about the fate of missing persons at around that time.
Ms Araipu now lives next to the house and says that the smell of decay has become overpowering as police rip up floorboards to get at the bodies concealed in a manhole beneath.


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