Saturday, February 6, 2010

Name Suppression For 'Prominent' Man Caught In FBI Paedophile Operation

The furore over New Zealand's name suppression laws is going to be given a fresh impetus with the announcement that permanent name suppression has been granted to a "prominent" Manawatu man convicted of downloading more than 300,000 pornographic images, "many of them children":
"The man, who was charged with 25 counts of possessing objectionable material and one count of distributing pornographic images on the internet after an FBI investigation led to his arrest last year, was sentenced to four months' home detention when he appeared for sentencing in Palmerston North District Court yesterday."
Furthermore, the man has escaped with nothing more than 4 months of home detention.

The FBI officers involved in the international operation must be sitting back and scratching their heads, wondering if their effort was worth it. The court's decision may give the impression that New Zealand is a pretty safe haven for paedophiles, especially those who can afford a good lawyer.

Why has this guy got off so lightly and why aren't the people in his local community entitled to know this deviant is living in their midst? The Judge Grant Fraser said:
"In this case there is no offending against any individuals within the New Zealand community. Therefore publicity in my view is not required to flush out any potential offenders or to enable members of the community to keep themselves safe from you."
Can anyone be really sure of that? If his name had been made public how many people may have came forward and said "My child may have been telling me the truth when ...." now no-one will ever know. Are children suffering in silence? Whose rights are more important here, his or the community's?

If this man had been "offending against the local community" after his four months is up he is more or less free to resume activities and no-one is any the wiser. Meanwhile every other "prominent" man in Manawatu (how many are there?) has the finger of suspicion hovering over him for ever more.

Altogether a very unsatisfactory situation for everyone concerned, except of course for the man himself who isn't brave enough to front-up...perhaps he could take a couple of tips from the FBI's own  motto "Fidelity. Bravery. Integrity."

Is it any wonder that some people are challenging the name suppression laws in New Zealand and doesn't this case illustrate perfectly well why they need to be changed.

There are bloggers out there who will now make it their business to reveal this man's name, think of the damage they will do if they get it wrong.

The whole situation is perfect mess.

See reactions to the judgement
Privileged name suppression furore, Sensible Sentencing Trust comments
Name suppression of Manawatu man condemned by child advocacy group

Related posts:
Name suppression farce continues
At least one sex attack in Palmerston North every week
Name Suppression for NZ muso

Today's posts - click here

Friday, February 5, 2010

1080 Drop For Mount Egmont To Go Ahead

From the Taranaki Daily News:
"Fingers are crossed at the Department of Conservation for fine weather in the last part of summer to drop 70 tonnes of 1080 pellets into the Egmont National Park.

The saga of Operation Egmont has been dragging on since August last year.

DOC was unable to fly helicopters into the park by the end of its consent window on December 20 because of bad weather and received an extension to March 31 from Taranaki's medical officer of health.

Plans were then to make the aerial drop of non toxic cereal bait in mid-January, followed by the 1080 bait early this month.

However, DOC Taranaki area manager Phil Mohi said it was decided to hold off on last month and the early part of February because of the number of summer trampers.

Mr Mohi said it was now "fingers crossed" the weather would be right to begin the whole operation shortly.

It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover more than 33,500ha of park in green cinnamon-scented 1080-laced pellets to control possums, stoats and rats.

"At present forecasts for February and March are looking good so we hope to undertake the operation within the next few weeks," said Mr Mohi.

He said possum control would still be effective despite the delays.

DOC will contact all neighbouring landowners of the park just before the drop. Signs will be erected at all park entrances, along with public notices in local publications..."
Early February and they expect all the trampers to be gone, that's rather premature isn't it? Readers may remember the Brazilian couple who were incensed when caught up in aerial weed-killer spraying of gorse and exposed to a "rain of chemicals" in Kahurangi National Park, the second largest national park in New Zealand. See "Clean Green New Zealand Is A Joke."

But rest assured. Safety is going to be of the utmost importance this time round:
"The bait will be applied using two of Eltham's Beck Helicopters, equipped with GPS technology.
DOC staff will be clearing bait from tracks and the public is asked not to handle any pellets they find. Dog owners are also asked to be extra vigilant over the next few months, for while dogs are not allowed in the park it is possible possum carcasses may wash downstream during floods.
"Safety is our key concern with this operation," said Mr Mohi."
And this is from people who cross their fingers?

Today's posts - click here

Another Pit-Bull Attack Puts Man In Hospital. New Zealand's Dog Problem

New Zealand's long history of dangerous dog attacks continued today with another mauling by two pit-bulls who turned on their owner his home in Hairini, Tauranga at 6 o'clock this morning.

The man, who suffered horrific head and arm injuries, was taken to hospital whilst police officers shot dead the two animals.

There been many dangerous dog attacks in New Zealand over the years, every so often there are calls to ban certain breeds, pit-bulls included, and to introduce tougher laws but the situation continues unchanged.

The government has always backed off, fearful of infringing upon the freedoms of dog owners without there ever being much talk about the responsibilities of dog owners.

Whilst many people may say any dog has the potential to attack if it has been treated badly, questions have quite rightly been asked if tighter restrictions should be placed on people owning and keeping pit-bulls, and other dogs traditionally bred for fighting in residential areas.

So how bad is the problem in New Zealand? In the last five years dog bites have cost the ACC over $10 million for a little under 50,000 dog bite victims. In 75% of attacks the dog was known to the victim, but not necessarily owned by them. Last year 460 needed to go to hospital because of dog bites and five people have died since 1969.

Whilst many breeds of dog can be considered dangerous only 4 are banned from importation into New Zealand: the American pit-bull terrier, Brazilian fila, Dogo argentino and the Japanese tosa.

A study in 13 North Island council districts  showed that Pit-bulls inflicted the most attacks, followed by Labradors, Bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers and Alsatians. The reason why Labradors feature so highly is because they are the nation's most popular dog and there are large numbers of them.

The study also showed that unregistered dogs are nine times more likely to be involved in attacks. This shows that tighter legislation is required and there needs to be more pro-active 'policing' of dog owners by regulatory authorities.

Here is some background to the recent history of dog attacks in New Zealand. This is not a list off all  attacks, rather just examples of a few serious ones and how, despite a lot of rhetoric and grand-standing, nothing has changed.

2003. A dog cross-bred to have the characteristics of a American Pit-Bull Terrier attacked 6 year old Carolina Anderson in Westmere Park, Auckland. The child lost an eye and endured 10 hours of surgery to repair her face which was ripped away from the underlying bone. She has since undergone multiple reconstructive surgeries. At the time of the attack Chris Carter said:
"It is simply unacceptable that young children are unable to enjoy the public amenities of a large metropolitan city like Auckland without fear of dog attack."
The two owners Thomas Owen and Brian Hill were jailed for the attack. Hill, was released from prison after only serving one month of a two month sentence.

Carolina Anderson's father has been campaigning ever since to have dangerous dogs banned but said  after submissions to a parliamentary select committee in 2003 'the pro-dog lobby had convinced politicians a ban was not practical.' But if vicious dogs, bred to fight, could not be banned at least they be made to wear muzzle...right? Mr Anderson said:
"Those sorts of dogs are loaded guns waiting to go off. We don't have the controls that we need. The first step would be muzzles on these sorts of dogs."
August 2007. Helen Clark said that dangerous dogs 'gave her the creeps' after two year old Aotea Coxon was mauled by a dog in a Christchurch park, Aotea needed 200 hundred stitches and a plate inserted into a broken jaw:
"It gives you the creeps to think of dangerous dogs strolling around ready to pounce on innocent people. That is why I am more than happy to keep looking at how the law can be improved and how enforcement can be improved."
But she said every time that has been attempted 'there had been a push-back from responsible dog owners and breeders'.

The attacks continued.

August 2009. Margit Christensen almost died after being seriously mauled by pack of 8 Pig-Dogs (a bull terrier-cross kept for hunting) as she jogged along a road in Putaruru. She suffered horrific injuries. The female owner of the dogs, Tuha-Karaina, was sentenced to three months home detention and 200 hours of community service, hardly a deterrent to irresponsible dog owners.

January 2010:  Former All White, Stu Jacobs was attacked by a cross bred Mastif. He demanded that tougher dog laws be introduced:
“I’d like to see certain breeds banned. I think there needs to be a certain rule that when dogs are in public there is more control over the dog so they can’t be running free.“They need to have a lead on, or a muzzle, or we need areas where a dog can roam free that isn’t amongst the public. Someone is going to get badly hurt, if not tragically killed, unless this is dealt with immediately.”

24 January 2010:  A 3 year old girl received 20 stitches to her face and almost lost an eye when a pit-bull attacked her in Wairoa, Hawkes Bay. The same day a 5 year old girl from Taneatua, near Whakatane, needed 10 hours of surgery after being mauled by two Staffordshire crosses. She suffered injuries over most of her body.

A spokesman for Local Government Minister Rodney Hide said a "review of dog ownership laws will begin in June, and the latest attacks are going to be 'taken into consideration.'"

But amazingly Mr Hide has already said that he thinks that dogs are subject to more controls that ever and their owners' rights to enjoy them are "overly restricted."

Nevertheless he is still taking care to go through the motions. He has asked officials to look at a "first principles" review of all dog laws, describing present legislation as an "onerous muddle," much of it created through emotion after of individual high-profile dog attacks rather than after clear thinking.

So now we're waiting until June to see if the review does start, whether there will be a definite closing date for delivery of the report (will it fade away) and, most importantly, if it does anything to lessen the risk of more members of the public being ripped apart by uncontrolled dogs.

Based on recent history things ain't looking good. Dog owners need to be educated NOW. It's time to toughen up the penalties for those who shirk their responsibilities and allow their dogs to be free to attack, intimidate and maim.

A spokesman for the NZ Kennel Club, Phil Lyth, has said he thinks the review needs to be finished this year instead of next and has supported National Party's National Party MP Simon Bridges' draft for a private member's bill for tougher penalties for willful ill-treatment of animals. Bridges said the 
"Ill-treatment of animals can include the sort of neglect which leads to attacks on humans - it's not dissimilar territory."
Dealing with a culture of brutality and animal cruelty within New Zealand are going to be tough nuts to crack.

See also
Gisborne man fed live kittens to pit-bull, and filmed it.
Auckland man slaughtered, gutted and cooked his pet dog on barbeque and it's legal.
SPCA to lay charges after for the shooting massacre of 33 dogs.
Posts tagged 'Animal Welfare'

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Migrant Stories - "Why I think New Zealand is backward" Part II

Yesterday as part our Migrant Stories series we entered an account from a British person, who'd lived in New Zealand and returned to the UK, entitled "Why I think New Zealand is backward".

Her post was made on an emigration forum frequented mainly by British people and some New Zealanders. It drew a massive response, some of it hostile, overly defensive and insecure. Since then she has published a fuller explanation of why she thinks New Zealand is backward by answering questions (in italics) that were put to her by another person. This is her response, this is why so many migrants and their families do not settle in New Zealand. Read, learn and understand.

"In response I will try to explain and i apoligise to all those people who felt offended by my unwisely choice of words.

No choice in the supermarkets, if u want to home bake u r ok, want a convenience meal forget it! I personally find the 'convenience meal' mentality in the UK sad. Get a cook book! It is healthier to cook your own food for starters.

Hi most of our meals are cooked from scratch, but when u have got lots of things to attend to and the kids need to be here there and everywhere a convenience meal is just that a convenience. I made a birthday cake and went to buy some writing pens, to write happy birthday on the top, could i get any NO the woman in the supermarket looked at me as though I was strange and gladly handed me a piping bag!!!! I thought they were extinct

Education is appaling, my opinion of having 4 kids in the UK system then NZ Some posters will disagree with that according to previous posts I've read. I can't comment.

Being a Lecturer with kids in very good schools in the UK, I found the education system appalling. NCEA is supposed to be on par with our GCSE's and A Levels, in my opinion there is no comparison. When head teachers will not call in parents of disobedient children because their parents are a gang members and will not upset them, it beggered belief!!

No expectations for kids to leave school and go to University. Who's responsibility is it? the schools? government? why not the parents?
It is the parents and the schools responsibility to inspire kids to attain the best they can out of life.

The people are NOT intelligent and to get an intelligent conversation is near on impossible. Sounds like a massively unfair generalisation to me.
This was a bad choice of words, very sorry people. I longed for an academic conversation, a debate, to speak to a person who could have a stimulating conversation was very limiting, it could have been the area we were in.

Health and Safety is a joke. In what way? Roads, driving the mountain road every day to take kids to schools, no barrieres at all. Allowing kids to drive at 15. The fact that when there are health and safety rules in place no one takes any notice of them. Tokoro Mill has safety bars to stop people falling in once the drains are opened but these have to be removed because the suction truck hose does not fit through it, so they have to lift it and any person could fall into the pit and would die within minutes. Also the collection of chemicals, they take anything where are the ADR certificates.

Music is mostly american rap and NZ follow american culture. As do half the planet!
Spending lots of time with teenagers, the american music and influence I felt was more prominent in NZ at least in the Uk they promote many new British bands. Again something I suppose I didn't expect

Wages are do not match expectations, therefore lifestyle you have previously had is no where in sight. You should have known this before moving to NZ. No-one moves to NZ to get rich. There are millions of posts about that.
I knew my wages would be half what I was on in the UK, but actually having the experience of having to live on them was very difficult, when u live by certain standards.

The Kiwi's do not want progress especially in all the farms I visited. What do you mean? do they use oxen to plough the fields?
hahaha you make me laugh. I was teaching farmers and their labourers how to use a new hand held computer and they are quite happy to tell you that they do not want computers and that they want new zealand to stay as it was. I found this difficult to comprehend especially as in the Uk we embrace new technologies. Also while teaching Korean and Japanese students they were shocked how behind with technology NZ was. They came with their studies downloaded to MP3's.

NZ is not safer than the UK in our experience. I'm sure many on BE NZ will disagree with that.
I can understand why lots of people may not agree with this, but in our experience this was the case. My 15 year old daughter was sexually assaulted in NZ and the culprit got sent to prison for 2 years. As I said in the Uk we take our kids to and from schools by car, so we felt like lots of others that NZ was safer so let hr walk! The culprits attitude in court stated, "If she was my daughter I would not let her out of my sight"

Drugs are a big acceptable part of their culture. Drugs are everywhere! Most teens will dapple in or come across drugs. You should educate them to be responsible
Of course every responsible parent in any country teaches their kids about drugs and their dangers, but we were not ready for the ACCEPTABLE part, that it is Ok to smoke dope in front of kids and teach them it is OK. I am sorry it in NOT OK to me or my family, hence the move away. it is endemic in NZ just another part of their culture.

The biggest suicide rate in teenagers is in NZ as the pressure on kids to go out and work to bring in money for the family, is a bigger pressure than getting a good education in the UK. It is all relative.
Agreed, different cultures expect different things from their children. But don't forget also that it is still Ok to beat your kids to a pulp in NZ and it happens as I have done lots of research and it is not a frowned upon, again it is accepted. These are things that are not anticipated when moving to a new culture until you experience them

College courses are few and far between. Such as? While doing some research a while back I came across Unis in Auckland and Christchurch, and I didn't have to look very hard.
Choices of what you can study is still very limiting. Teaching in a UK college with 350,000 students, to a few hundred students at the local college in NZ, again this is due to population so if your kids choose a course , it is quite likely that it is going to be a long way from home in NZ to enable them to persue a career. Universities have a better choice, but a UK degree is better recognised that many other countries degrees.

Being so far away from other countries, it has been left behind. I understand that this could be an issue for some, but for me this is what is appealing about NZ

Again perspective. I have never said NZ was bad, it is a matter of perspective. Again the reality did not hit me until I lived in NZ and could not jump on a plane and visit another country so easily. It is appealing if u want seclusion and a quiet peaceful life, I agree.

The fact that there is no structure to society is very hard to work with, especially as the UK is so structured. Please explain what you mean by this.
Stucture, rules and regulation are not adhered to. Drink Driving- I was at a petrol station and a man in the next car drove up, drunk so much he couldn't stand and had a child in the car about 2years old. The police turn a blind eye to drink driving, driving without seat belts. They do you for speeding though as it gains them money, like other countries. it is hard to explain that there is no infastructure maybe someone on her can explain better. Where you are brought up with rules and regulations, trying to live the the sloppiness of it all is difficult.

Lots of Adults in NZ believe in being in gangs, which their kids follow. This sounds like utter bollocks to me. Lots of adults all over NZ want to be in gangs? nonsense
So there are NO MONGREL MOB AND BLACK POWER GANGS????? Get out of here LOL. These Gangs are known by the police, but even the police will not deal with them. They pick up the young wannabe members cos it is easier! So there was No shooting in broad daylight of a Mongrel Mob member in Rotorua in 2006 and the shooting of a Black Powers daughter (2 year old) in 2007? I just dreampt this did I. read the papers. These gangs do rule parts of Rotorua. Most doctors and Counsellors were also shocked by the amount of gang culture in Rotoura.

I have tried to explain from my point of view, how I felt in New Zealand. I know there will always be people who are opposed to what I say. But please remember, if i do not answer straight away I am many miles from you now. New Zealand was a lovely place to visit but I did not feel I could stay."
For many migrants one of their prime motivators for moving to New Zealand is to provide a better life for their children. Sadly, for some people, New Zealand fails to deliver.

In the New Zealand News this day:
*The funeral of taxi driver Hiren Mohini who was stabbed in a frenzied assault on Sunday morning link
*British girl and her mum commended for fighting off sex attacker in North Shore link
*Police appeal for help in catching gunman in yesterday's bank robbery in Napier link 
*Desert Road murderer gets 16 years jail term link
*3 Cheetahs escape from Christchurch park link
*3 shots fired at bus carrying children in Christchurch link
*BMX star sentenced for sex attacks on two 14 year olds in Rangiora schoolyard link
*Hastings police pursuit ends in crash link
*Black Power gang member, 17, raped 10 year old link
*Train driver ran stop light link 
*Home detention for woman who supplied P to ex-husband link
*Drunk-driver's sentence disgusts widow link
*Negotiators talk man down from crane in Auckland link 
*Shoplifter wielded knife, threatens public in Christchurch mall link
*Central city pick-ups lead to sex attacks in Hamilton link
*North Shore primary school teacher on sex charges link
*Man avoids jail for vicious assault link
*School head teachers opposite national standards in education scheme link
*No jail for $15,000 robbery link
*Unemployment raises to 10 year high link

Please click on any of the topics in the Labels List below the comments section of this page to read other posts relating to the issues this woman has raised.

Today's posts - click here

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Migrant Stories - "Why I think NZ is backward"

Continuing our series of first hand migrant accounts from around the net.

This post was made on a British expatriate web forum. It was written by a teacher who lived in New Zealand for two years before returning to the UK.
Someone asked me this week in a post how I could describe New Zealand as Backward. Can people help me explain as I have pondered on the subject for days
No choice in the supermarkets, if u want to home bake u r ok, want a convenience meal forget it!
Education is appalling, my opinion of having 4 kids in the UK system then NZ
No expectations for kids to leave school and go to University
The people are NOT intelligent and to get an intelligent conversation is near on impossible
Health and Safety is a joke
Music is mostly American rap and NZ follow American culture
Wages are do not match expectations, therefore lifestyle you have previously had is no where in sight
The Kiwi's do not want progress especially in all the farms I visited
NZ is not safer than the UK in our experience
Drugs are a big acceptable part of their culture
The biggest suicide rate in teenagers is in NZ as the pressure on kids to go out and work to bring in money for the family, is a bigger pressure than getting a good education in the UK
College courses are few and far between
Being so far away from other countries, it has been left behind
The fact that there is no structure to society is very hard to work with, especially as the UK is so structured
Lots of Adults in NZ believe in being in gangs, which their kids follow.

This is not a england vs nz post, but I was asked my opinion and I am sure there are lots of people out there who can help me try to explain how lots of Brits find NZ backward"
Update: please read the follow-up here
For more information about crime, educational standards, teen suicide rates, drugs etc. please look at our "New Zealand Facts of Life" page.
Kiwi youth suffer some of the worst health outcomes in the developed world. New Zealand youth have higher rates of mental illness, suicide, teen pregnancy and suffered more injuries than young people in other OECD countries.

66% of students entering high school aren't numerate.

For other Migrants Tales click HERE

Today's posts - click here

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Police Car In Fatal Pile-Up In North Shore - Updated

The day after police minister Judith Collins called police joyrides on Target Road Primary's playing fields a "bit of fun" and said she wasn't concerned by it (See "Collins backs police joyrides at school gala") a police car has been involved in a multi-vehicle crash in Albany, North Shore.

North Shore is the same borough that Target Road School is in.

At least one person has been killed and another is in hospital. One report said:
"The collision happened as a police car was passing through the intersection, which has been left scattered with glass and debris.Vehicles involved include a courier van and a jeep.
Prime News reporter Greta Lawson said the police car had its siren on at the time of the crash. "It was a male police officer driving with a female police officer in the passenger seat. And it was not a pursuit - the police here have told us that they were on their way to a different job."

One of five vehicles involved was on its roof and another was a police car, a witness told Radio New Zealand."

View Larger Map, the junction was close to Pinehurst School
Our thoughts are with the family of the deceased person and the other people injured in the incident.

One eye witness gave a calm and frank account of the crash to a Herald reporter - watch the video HERE.  She said she saw the cop car coming the opposite direction with its lights on at a very high speed and hit the black truck, the truck then came down on another car, the cop car then hit another two cars, hit her and travelled another 50/60 metres down the road, fortunately she was unharmed though shaken. Her account seems very different to the official press release issued to Voxy earlier in the day.

The Voxy release did say that an elderly male motorist died in the incident. We'd like to offer deepest sympathies to his family.

734 Police cars crashed in the last year
Figures obtained by the Dominion Post under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that:
"734 police cars have crashed in the past year, only 61 crashed while pursuing speeding vehicles.

Officers involved in car crashes, which included scrapes and dings, were usually dealt with through infringement notices, although court action was brought in serious cases.

In 2008, Auckland Constable Aaron Holmes was convicted of aggravated careless use of a motor vehicle causing injury after an accident outside a primary school* in 2007. He crashed into a street lamp, which fell on the head of a teenager and left him in a coma. Holmes was travelling 80kmh in a 50kmh zone for no good reason.

Four officers in the past five years faced serious criminal convictions such as manslaughter."
*Owairaka Primary on Richardson Road.

The death toll on New Zealand's roads so far this year was at 38 yesterday, already higher than January and February combined last year.

For background see yesterday's post "Police cars "joyriding" on school playing fields"

Today's posts - click here

Korean Tourist Beaten And Robbed In Taupo, An International Safe Community?

A 22 year old female Korean tourist was punched and robbed by two thugs as she walked in Taupo on Sunday. The attack took place on Huka Falls Road at around 5.40 pm when two men grabbed her from a passing car. Fortunately she wasn't seriously injured although she is understandably shaken by her ordeal, we hope she's feeling better soon.

Sadly attacks on tourists in this area are not uncommon. A group of 4 international tourists (their nationality was never released) was attacked whilst swimming at nearby Kerosene Creek a couple of months ago.

Despite all that Taupo is currently trying to push itself towards becoming a World Health Organisation "Safe International Community."

The Taupo Safe District Committee put in action the Taupo Safe District Project Plan, which has a vision to see Taupo become a safe district to live, work and play in early 2009. If it gains accreditation Taupo will be recognised as a safe place to live.

The Award Ceremony is scheduled for 27th May 2010 , following a site visit to Taupo from Dr Carolyn Coggan Director of Safe Communities Foundation NZ and other certifying personnel working on behalf of the WHO.

We sincerely hope that tourists, who are already the target of violence and robberies in NZ because of their perceived vulnerability and relative wealth, aren't suckered in to believing they can be more relaxed with their personal security. Using the "Safe International Community" badge as a marketing tool may be counterproductive because it may make tourists easier targets. It's hardly going to reduce the crime figures or improve the country's image abroad if that happens.

The small tourist town was shoved under the international spotlight when British visitor Karen Aim was clubbed to death and interfered with whilst walking home one night. Her attacker was a 14 year old youth who was later convicted of murder and sentenced to life with a non-parole period of 12.5 years.  Prominent British composer and Master of the Queen's Music, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, wrote a composition in Karen's memory after being "moved and shocked" by her death.

It's great to hear that a safer community initiative like this has been undertaken, more towns should do the same. It's positive step in reducing crime and injuries for the benefit of the whole community and the impetus must be maintained if it is really going to be effective, just don't use it to market the town to overseas visitors.

Today's posts - click here

Monday, February 1, 2010

Police Cars "Joyriding" On School Playing Fields. Video

As if the death and injury toll isn't already high enough on New Zealand's roads! This defies belief and makes a mockery of every road safety campaign ever made, in New Zealand or anywhere else for that matter. What sort of message is driving like this sending out to young people in New Zealand?

Someone who was at a fair at Target Road Primary, a decile 6 school in North Shore, Auckland made the above YouTube video of two police cars "careening" on the school playing fields giving rides to kids:
"New Zealand Police show the public how to drift, donut, endanger children and make a mockery of the govt's safety message"
There were no safety barriers erected and no indication of whether the drivers were even insured to "sell rides" (the money went to the school) on school property. The cars were racing around within feet of spectators and a bouncy castle. It's a far cry from traditional school fair activities and one has to question both the drivers' and the school's wisdom in allowing this type of fund raiser to occur on a school playing field in an urban environment.

Is it any wonder that figures obtained under the Official Information Act by the Dominion Post reveal that a staggering total of 734 police cars have crashed in the last year of which only 61 crashed whilst perusing another vehicle, 100 cars have been written off in the last 5 years yet only only 4 officers have received serious criminal convictions.

The final irony is that there is a particularly fast stretch of road outside the school and the speed limit is often rigorously enforced during school times.

View Larger Map

The day after this post was made a police car was involved in a fatal collision with 5 cars in the same borough see Police Car in Fatal Pile Up on North Shore.

In the year the video was filmed there were 366 deaths and 15,266 injuries (2560 serious and 12,706 minor injuries) on roads in New Zealand

Today's posts - click here

Hiren Mohini Died In "Frenzied Attack", NZ "No Longer Safe For Taxis At Night"

New outlets today are already reporting the results of an autopsy that was carried out on Hiren Mohini, the Indian taxi driver, who was murdered in Auckland early Sunday morning.

One report stated:
"An autopsy yesterday revealed that he died from the stab wound to his chest. Witnesses said he had also suffered wounds to his face and neck.
"It was a frenzied attack," said the police officer heading the homicide inquiry, Detective Senior Sergeant Hywel Jones."
As we reported yesterday there have been repeated calls for security measures and screens to be fitted to all taxis to reduce the risks of assault and robbery. This was reiterated today:
The killing has spurred the Government to review taxi safety and consider mandatory safety measures.The incident prompted renewed calls by the Taxi Federation for the Government to make safety measures - such as cameras in cabs - mandatory.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce today said taxi safety did need to be looked at again. It had been reviewed in the past after earlier attacks
See our comments yesterday about 'image' being more important than driver safety. The report also said
"We're ending up in a situation where New Zealand isn't as safe for taxis late at night any more," he told Radio New Zealand.Mr Joyce said he would meet with taxi industry representatives, the Department of Labour and the NZ Transport Agency to assess what further safety measures need to be implemented.

One of the challenges was having the taxi industry agree on what mandatory measures needed to be taken, he said..."
One has to question why image is so more important than human life? It’s time to concede that life for taxi drivers, many of whom are migrants, in NZ is unacceptably risky and they need better protection. We predict that despite all the rhetoric from the transport minister the situation for drivers will be exactly the same a year from now. We’d love to be proved wrong.
Today's posts - click here

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Indian Taxi Driver Hiren Mohini From Mumbai, Murdered In Auckland - Updated

38 year old taxi driver Hiren Mohini has been stabbed to death whilst on duty in Auckland overnight. The incident took place in the early hours of Sunday morning in the Mount Eden area and a man was seen running from the scene. Some news outlets in NZ may have 'neglected' to mention Mr Mohini's nationality,  however the The Indian Weekender  was able to set the record straight:
"Mr Mohini had moved to New Zealand from Mumbai in about 2003, his close friend and schoolmate from Goregaon, Mumbai, Sachin Jadhav told Indian Weekender. He said he was driving his taxi for the past four years.
Another colleague, Shane, said Mr Mohini was one of the quietest blokes he knew and that he was always courteous and respectful. “If money is what the attacker wanted, he could have simply asked – and Hiren would have handed it to him with no hesitation,” he said.

Taxi driver Chittaranjan said this incident once again highlighted how risky driving taxis in Auckland could be. It strengthens the case for some sort of physical barrier between the front and back seats as a deterrent as is seen in many of the world’s big cities, he said.
Authorities had repeatedly stonewalled previous appeals for such measures and wanted to raise the issue once again the drivers said. Mr Mohini, who originally from Gujarat, leaves behind his wife, two daughters aged five and two and his mother.
Our deepest sympathies are extended to Mr. Mohini's family for their terrible loss. We hope the police catch the person responsible as quickly as possible.

At this stage it is uncertain as to whether the attack was racially motivated. In December of 2008
Afghanistan national Abdulrahman Ikhtiari, 39 was found lying near his taxi with a fatal stab wound to his chest. That was the same week as Auckland cabbie Alexander Ershov, 23, was stabbed six times, fortunately he survived his injuries. A news report at the time reported:
"We can't believe somebody killed him," said Mohammad Ikhtiari, who is also a taxi driver. He is angry police appeared to have ignored previous complaints about the behaviour to which Afghani taxi drivers in Christchurch were subjected.
"Heaps have happened to taxi drivers ... and when we call to the police and say this customer didn't pay, they say `we don't care. It is not criminal case'. If somebody insult us with `why you come here, what are you doing in this country?' and when we tell to police they say `we don't care'. They should have done more about this issue. We are very angry." 
Taxi drivers want the Transport Agency to change taxi regulations to require all cabs to be fitted with a cage or screen to protect the driver. They asked for the same after Abdulrahman Ikhtiari's death in Christchurch but it was considered to be a 'bad image for the city'. For pity's sakes, how can image ever be considered more important than someone's life?

Many highly skilled migrants drive taxis in New Zealand. They are unable to find other work because their overseas qualifications are 'not recognised'. Some of them have said they are subjected to racial abuse whilst on the job: See post "Skilled Migrants Must Drive Taxis To Survive"

Update 1 February 2009
Police announced that they have found the knife they believed was used to kill Mr Mohini. TVNZ also said that the deceased man was a trained accountant and moved from Mumbai with his wife 7 years ago. Another report has said other people may have been involved in the vicious attack and that some taxi drivers refuse to work at night because the risks are too great.

There is still no news about the fate of Srikanth Rayadurgam (below) 23 year old student from Hyderabad who disappeared after withdrawing $250 from his bank account in Auckland in October. His personal belongings and empty wallet were found at a quiet location on Auckland's harbourside.

See also see "NZ portrays safe image to attract Indians" from the Times of India. 

Other Indian nationals murdered in New Zealand
Navind Govind - Clubbed to death by a gang of youths
Shiu Prasad - Stabbed to death by William Holtz who specialized in robberies of Indian owned shops and who was out on parole for the attack of another Indian shopkeeper.
Bhagubhai Vaghela - shot in the chest at close range in an Auckland superette.
Navtej Singh- Shot in the chest with a rifle during a liquor-store raid.
Krishna Naidu - Repeatedly stabbed in the abdomen in his family's superette in Clendon.

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