Thursday, February 11, 2010

Allegations Of Bribery At Housing New Zealand?

Back in November we talked about how New Zealand had a higher rate of economic crime than its near neighbours, way above the world average: a massive 42% of businesses in New Zealand had suffered economic fraud in the previous 12 months against a global average of 30%.

Now it's emerging that the country may have problems with bribery within one of its government institutions. Readers will already know of (Ex) MP Phillip Field found guilty of bribery and corruption. The former immigration boss Mary Anne Field who "consistently breached" the requirements of public servants to manage conflicts of interest. They may also remember Former list MP Donna Awatere Huata who was convicted of fraud.

Voxy first hosted a HNZ press release yesterday that carefully avoided the "B" word:

Investigation Of An Allegation Of Improper Practice Underway
"Housing New Zealand is investigating an allegation a staff member has been offering applicants for state houses preferential treatment, in return for money, Chief Executive Dr Lesley McTurk said today.

"I can reassure everyone this situation is being thoroughly investigated. Immediate employment action has been taken," Dr McTurk said. "Once our investigation is complete, it will be possible to make a decision whether it is appropriate to bring the matter to the attention of the Police....."
Today the Herald is running a story saying that it may not be just a single employee that's involved and, in an article that mentioned the dreaded "B" word five times, said:

HNZ bribe claim not first allegation - tenant advocate
"Allegations that a Housing New Zealand (HNZ) staff member has been taking bribes is not the first claim of its kind, says a tenant advocate. Piripi Gray said he welcomed the investigation and had previously heard of other allegations of bribery at HNZ.

He said tenants were vulnerable and felt intimidated by HNZ staff.
"But if they come forward than people can really see what is happening inside Housing New Zealand," Mr Gray said. He said tenants had complained to him in the past that application forms were not being processed and that HNZ staff were asking for goods such as stereos."
Stereos?! well at least they won't show up on the bank statements. The Herald closed with:
"New Zealand Federation of Family Budgeting Services secretary Raewyn Fox said many of her clients were also clients of Housing New Zealand but she had never heard of bribery.
"I have heard mumbles about the waiting lists though," Ms Fox said. "Even the suggestion that something like this has happened will damage their confidence," she said.

Housing Minister Phil Heatley praised HNZ for its "swift action".
"Prospective Housing New Zealand tenants and the wider public must have confidence in the probity of the state house system. I'm confident all necessary steps are being taken to ensure that is the case," Mr Heatley said.

Mr Heatley said anyone with complaints about HNZ could call the authority's complaints line in "absolute confidence" on 0800 801 601."
Absolute confidence?

A typical call may go something like this "Oh yes, a while ago I gave this chick at HNZ my stereo so she wouldn't 'lose' my paperwork again. You're not going to take my home off me are you?" How many calls do you think HNZ is going to get from tenants who already feel "vulnerable" and "intimidated"?

We have a feeling that this one will run and run but we don't think that HNZ's complaint's line is going to be red hot.

Stand by to see what else comes out of the woodwork over the next few days.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Libby Templeman's Mother Gives Evidence

The mother of Libby Templeman, the British school girl strangled in Kerikeri on 1 November 2008, has given evidence at the trial of the boy accused of her assault and murder.

Mrs Templeman told of her desperate efforts to find Libby after she failed to answer her text messages on the night she disappeared.

She said she'd phone the accused boy and Libby's friends, only to find out that the last person her daughter had been seen with was the boy.

She then phoned him again the next morning to find out why there was a half hour gap between the boy saying he'd left Libby near Kerikeri High school and him receiving a phone call from someone else.

Libby's father is also due to give evidence today.

In 2005 the Templeman's emigrated from Brightlingsea in Essex looking for a better life in New Zealand. Libby was a pupil at Colne Community School.

For other posts about Libby please click Here

Today's posts - click here

Monday, February 8, 2010

Privileged Name Suppression Furore, Sensible Sentencing Trust Comments

The uproar over the decision to grant permanent name suppression to a 'prominent' man convicted of downloading and distributing indecent images of young girls continued today with a statement from the Sensible Sentencing Trust. Garth McVicar says the judgment has undermined public confidence in the NZ justice system and that it puts criminals ahead of victims. This from Voxy
"Garth McVicar, spokesman for the Sensible Sentencing Trust, has been inundated with outraged inquiries from members of the public asking what can be done about the name suppression and why the offender received special treatment because of his profile in the community and his job, which has also been kept private.

"If someone chooses to commit a crime and is caught, then their job, social standing and any consequent fall from grace should be irrelevant. Our judges are protecting the privileged and giving them special treatment and it is totally undermining public confidence in the justice system," said Mr McVicar.

In a bid to highlight the impact of such biased sentencing and identity protection, Mr McVicar was releasing one of the messages he had received from a member of the public who had trusted the man and believed others deserved to know about his behaviour and the risk he posed to the community:

"This sentence was made against a person with whom I entrusted my health I am in shock at this sentence and find it offensive that the judge seems to be more sympathetic to the offender and his loss more than he is the victim. This judge is also a judge for the family court and makes decisions regarding safety and care of children also".

Mr McVicar said the decision was another example of a liberal-leaning judge putting the criminal ahead of the victims and community safety and protecting the upper echelons of society, who should know better.

"Judges are appointed to protect the public from predatory and criminal behaviour, not to protect the dignity and reputation of well-heeled businessmen. How far a person falls from grace as a result of their crimes should not matter. If a person does the crime they should do the time and not get special treatment."
It is fast becoming evident that NZ may have a two tier justice system.

The editor of the Manawatu Standard has said his piece saying too saying "Open justice gets thrown aside"

" OPINION: If there were any lingering doubts that the guidelines for suppressing names in this country needed strengthening, the case detailed in today's Manawatu Standard should shatter them.

The creeping secrecy pervading our justice system has long since passed what the public should accept as a reasonable restriction on their freedom of expression in order to safeguard the administration of justice.

The decision to suppress the name of a prominent Manawatu man convicted of downloading pornographic images of children is a salient example of how the principle of open justice has been reduced to little more than a passing mention before a judge abdicates his or her duty to ensure our public court system belongs to the people.

Judge Grant Fraser's reasons for banning publication of this man's name and occupation are breathtaking in their flimsiness, placing too much weight on the interests of the offender, and too little on the interests of the public.

For Judge Fraser to say publication of the man's identity was not required because none of the thousands of children pictured were New Zealanders is logically outrageous. Such an argument requires one to believe this man investigated the background of each of his young victims to determine they were not from this country. Does Judge Fraser believe that had the man known the children were New Zealanders he would have not downloaded the images?

But what was most alarming about Judge Fraser's decision was his view that the offender's status in society should afford him special protection from publicity.

Judge Fraser said: "The punitive consequences are more extensive for you than for others, particularly in light of your position, your achievements and the consequential outcome."
It is this statement, above all others, that exposes the judge's decision not only as poor, but as an insult to the central tenet of justice that it applies to everyone equally.

Publicly revealing an offender's name will have different consequences for individuals depending on their life situation. It is not for the courts to attempt to manipulate those consequences to make them equal for everyone. It might sound paradoxical, but justice isn't always fair.

Those who hold a high social status must accept that with it comes greater scrutiny when they behave in a manner unbecoming that status. There cannot be one set of rules for them, and another for everyone else.

The Law Commission has recommended the Government raises the threshold for name suppression and sets clearer guidelines on how it should be applied.

What happened in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday might not have exposed the identity of a sexual deviant, but it has revealed how important it is for the Government to adopt those recommendations."
Yet the government sits on its hands as case after case drags the New Zealand judicial system further into the mire. One has to question why this is being allowed to happen, is the government powerless to stop it?

For an indication about strongly the NZ public feels about this issue see SHAME and the SHAME facebook page.

Today's posts - click here

Libby Templeman Trial, Not Guilty Plea Entered -Updated

The trial of a teenager charged with the murder of British school girl Liberty Rose Templeman has got underway at the High Court in Whangarei.

The boy, who was 14 at the time that Libby died, has entered not guilty pleas to the charges of murder and indecent assault.

Various sources have said that the boy was in the same class as Libby at her old school in Kerikeri but was not her boyfriend. She had returned to the area to visit friends after her family moved to Auckland for work reasons.

A report about the opening day of the trial, during which the court was told that it would hear tapes in which the boy admitted to strangling Libby, was given on Voxy
"The youth, now aged 16, has name suppression and quietly pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and the indecent assault of Liberty Rose Templeman at Kerikeri in early November 2008. At the time the accused was aged 15 and an acquaintance of the dead girl but not her boyfriend.

Justice Raynor Asher continued suppression of the accused's name - he can only be identified as "K" - pending a review at the outcome of the trial which is expected to last three weeks. The Crown will call more than 40 witnesses.

Liberty Templeman, known to friends as Libby, was English and migrated to New Zealand with her parents in 2005. The family settled in Kerikeri where she attended the local high school. In late 2008 Libby's parents moved to Auckland for better work opportunities.

Mr Smith said Libby kept up her contacts with friends in Kerikeri and on a Friday in early November 2008, she took a bus to Kerikeri to meet up with some of them, including a boyfriend. On the Saturday they socialised and there was an impromptu barbeque at which the accused was also present. That began to break up about 6.30pm and Libby set off to meet her boyfriend at a local supermarket. She never got there.

"K" was seen with Libby who, like most young people was busily texting, said Mr Smith. They ducked off the road and suddenly the texting stopped.

The Crown's case was that "K" knocked the girl down then strangled her. After that he dragged her unconscious down to the bank of the Wairoa stream. He pulled down her pants exposing her genitalia and lifted her bra to expose a breast in an attempt to indicate Libby was the victim of rape.

The accused then cycled home where he hid a blood-spotted green shirt he was wearing in a plastic bag in bushes where it was later found by the police.

He went inside and showered.

Libby's boyfriend was concerned when she did not show up, it was not like her to be late, said Mr Smith. After a search with a parent the police were contacted that evening. Libby's father was contacted and he drove through the night to Kerikeri.

More than 24 hours later her body was found on the banks of the stream.

Mr Smith told the jury they would hear police interviews with "K," some videoed, and his admission of attacking Libby and re-arranging her clothing to make it look like a rape.

Earlier Justice Asher told the jury of six men and six women to ignore what they may heard or read of the crime and not to jump to early conclusions.

"Your task is to be dispassionate ... and that includes putting aside sympathy for the accused."

Our thoughts are with Libby's family and friends, the next few days will be a very difficult time for them and they are sure to have the full support of their communities in the UK and in New Zealand.

The case is being followed in the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph

For other posts about Libby please click here

Today's posts - click here

Name Suppression Of Manawatu Man Condemned By Child Advocacy Group

On 6 February 2010 we reported on the ridiculous decision to suppress the name of a 'prominent' man convicted in Palmerston North Court of downloading more than 300,000 indecent images, many of them of children.  Read it here.

The man, who lives in the Manawatu and who was caught in an international FBI investigation, was found to have both downloaded and distributed indecent images. But in addition to suppressing his name the judge also dealt the offender a slap on the wrist with a sentence of 4 months home detention.

Crown prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk said granting name suppression could be seen as protecting a person in a privileged position. He also disputed the need to protect the man's children as they were well informed about the offending. If he feels so strongly why does he do us all a favour and appeal the court's decision? One has to wonder just what the offender's profession was.

Now a child advocacy group Stop Demand has stepped in to condemn the suppression:

"Today Stop Demand's founder, Denise Ritchie, said the man's sexual interest in young girls and his prolific appetite for more and more images contributed directly to market forces of demand and supply, leading to more children being violated and degraded.

"Yet Judge Fraser's decision suggests that if you participate in and fuel the global sexual exploitation of children but you are a prominent member of the New Zealand community, the courts will protect your interests.

"This is a disappointing and unacceptable message from our courts," she said.

Naming offenders removed the shroud of secrecy under which they lurked, and increased their future accountability, Ms Ritchie said. It acted as a deterrent to others.

"The public, particularly caregivers and children, are entitled to know who these offenders are.
"The fact that the court places more weight on the personal circumstances of 'prominent' offenders, than on the serious issue of child sexual exploitation and its long-term impact on victims, is disturbing," she said.

Ms Ritchie described the sentence and anonymity as an insult to the man's victims, "all of whom will live the rest of their lives without anonymity, fully identifiable to sexually aroused predators".

"If we are to make significant inroads into stopping this modern-day sexual abuse of children here and overseas, we must crack down heavily on those who fuel demand for such material," she said."

New Zealand is fast becoming a safe haven for any sexual offender who is even remotely in the public eye. Not only will they have their name suppressed but they can also pretty much get off with little or no punishment if they whine loudly enough.

Take the case of the "NZ muso" who assaulted a young girl pleaded guilty and got nothing more than a slapped wrist in case it damaged his career in some way in the future. Even though most of New Zealand now knows the man's identity the name suppression order still stands. The law as it stands is an ass.

If any good will come out of this latest case it is will be this: It will add weight to the position of bloggers like Cameron Slater, whose site has now become the place to visit whenever a slime-ball manages to slip one past the justice system. It is climbing up the ratings to be one of the most popular sites with New Zealanders. Isn't it  ironic that that same system that is trying to lock him up also allows a paedophile with 300,000 pictures on his PC gets to sleep soundly at night in his own home.

Stop Demand say:
  • several million children are enslaved in the child sex trade each year (Source: ECPAT, UNICEF, UNESCAP)
  • children in various tourist destinations are being violated by sex tourists (refer article)
  • trafficking of children and young women into the global sex trade is the third largest international criminal activity (Source: Interpol) and is a multi-billion dollar industry
  • traffickers, pimps, procurers, brothel owners and other intermediaries make vast profits from the child sex trade
  • ever-increasing numbers of children are being exploited to produce Internet child pornographic images (refer article)
  • sexual violence and sexual exploitation of children is endemic in
    • the home & community
    • domestic service
    • refugee camps and armed conflict
    • cultural practices (such as child brides, devadasi/temple girls, trokosi/fetish slaves)
    • cultural beliefs (such as sex with a virgin cures HIV/AIDS, brings good fortune or restores virility)
For information on the scale of sex crimes in New Zealand  please see our NZ Facts of Life page.

Today's posts - click here

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Previous Robbery Of British Tourists At Kerosene Creek.

Back in December we wrote about how a group of "international tourists" (their nationality was never released) had been attacked and robbed of their car and possessions by a group of people whilst swimming at Kerosene Creek. At the time we said that locals were wary of parking at the Creek and at a number of other locations, we asked if this information was given to tourists.

What we didn't know was that 3 British women lost their belongings at the same location a few years earlier. The British women were unaware of the risks they were exposing themselves to and believed the area to be safe.

After the robbery the chair of the local tourism advisory board recommended that tourist attractions be graded according to their safety. This was back in the day when tourism chiefs were free to talk about visitors being made aware of the risks of crime in New Zealand.

His was was an excellent idea and perhaps the group of "International Travellers" would have avoided becoming the victims of crime if it had been adopted.

This from Kelly Blanchard of the Rotorua Daily Post

"When Anna Wright, Louise Wootton and Sarah McElhiney told people in Rotorua they had been robbed of their bags from the boot of their car at Kerosene Creek, no-one was surprised.

The English tourists have been left wondering why people tell tourists to go there if they know there is a chance they could lose all their possessions.

The girls found out about the hot water creek from reading the New Zealand edition of Lonely Planet. Their copy of the book had no warnings about crime in the area, although the latest edition has a warning that "cars have been broken into in this area, don't leave your valuables in your vehicle".

Senior Sergeant Dave Wilson said the car park at Kerosene Creek had been changed recently and there had been a noticeable reduction in thefts from cars in recent months.

Rotorua Tourism Advisory Board chairman Neville Nicholson suggested attractions, activities and even campervans should be ranked according to their safety. Visitors could then be given a flyer reminding them to stay clear of any attraction that did not have a safety stamp.

Mr Nicholson said visitors often dropped their guard because they perceived New Zealand as a safe destination.We are absolutely sick and tired of it. These mongrels are ruining our country and ruining our reputation."

Rotorua police area commander Inspector Bruce Horne suggested Rotorua residents continue to recommend places such as Kerosene Creek to visitors but also make sure they told them of the potential risks.

He said some people were afraid to admit crime occurred in certain areas because it could affect the area's image.

"It's no good not advising people about the risks ... it helps to just remind them that it is a place that is sometimes preyed on and if they see anyone dodgy hanging around, they should contact police."
 Wise words and has anything changed since?

Today's posts - click here

Migrant Stories - "Don't Move To New Zealand"

Continuing in our series of Migrant Stories: first hand accounts of migrant life in New Zealand, taken from locations around the net.

This recent story is from the discussion forum Expatexposed. It tells how grinding penny pinching becomes a way of life with nothing to compensate it, rather than a short term measure to get ahead. The poster also tells of how carefully 'Brand New Zealand' is manipulated to attract people who turn out to be unsuitable migrants:

"I am so tired of Kiwis making a virtue of necessity. They should be honest that THAT is what it is - making do on a cute remote island. Nothing more than that. Not an arcane "lifestyle" to be aspired to (cue: clink wineglass of Sauvignon Blanc, look out to blue water, flash impossibly white teeth at partner that you would never see on a Kiwi because most of them don't do dental).

There's nothing here to compensate for the forced pennypinching - little opportunity, no rich culture, you can't easily travel to other places for a change - nothing. The government and migration agencies are dressing New Zealand up and not being honest about what it is really like here - THAT is my biggest gripe.

If you are rich, boaty and/or fetishize nature, you will LOVE it here, and you won't have to make sacrifices, or the sacrifices may well be worth it. I am not rich, boaty and do not fetishize nature.

I DO wear woolly socks and jumpers inside, and I did that before I came here. I shop secondhand "just because it is sensible". I make food from scratch. I totally agree - it's sensible and no less, regardless. I have NEVER had central heating or double-glazed windows in any house I have lived in, though I aspired to such back home where I was able to afford to buy my own house. I used to put thermal plastic sheeting on my windows to keep warm in winter. I will hunt that stuff down for this year in NZ if I haven't been able to leave by winter. At home, I had a gas furnace (not a standalone heater) and my heating was, under a special distributive program where they spread the money out for winter heating to summer months so you don't get these big lumps to pay in winter) about 80 a month USD (that's about, what, 100 NZD?). Just to give you a comparison.

The difference is that back there, I lived this same way and was able to save money and get ahead by being frugal. I could afford better food and I didn't have to darn big holes in socks. I'd darn a little hole or two and then when the socks persisted in developing more holes, I would give them away to the local animal shelter inside a pillowcase for the animals to use. I had money to travel and visit people.

I've lived frugally before - and was able to GET AHEAD by doing so. I was able to save thousands a year doing that. Here, you are FORCED to live that way just to keep your head above water, and you are lucky if you can save anything. Maybe some year upward mobility will pull you into its wake if you can catch the wave at the right can only climb the rungs of the ladder with great difficulty in New Zealand, and just hope you don't have a setback that sends you back to START. It's easy to have that happen to you if you have no family here to cushion your setbacks for you.

I do not consider that the people of New Zealand are beneath me. I perceive that they "make do" valiantly with what they have. I have seen them be amazingly creative making good useful things out of nothing. The housewives use everything but the squeal. Jesus, do I have to want to live like that, though? This is admirable, and I'd do it if I had to, but why pay out the nose to do that? Kiwis are both shaped and limited by having to live that way. They don't have time for intellectual pursuits? Just LIVING here occupies enough of their effort, so ok, it's understandable (Google "culture of New Zealand", "anti-intellectualism" if you think I am being a snob). People have crafted the Wiki entry to reflect reality, better, I think, since I came over some years ago, and I think prospective migrants should read it: (See below*)
I don't think you're aware of how carefully they manipulate Brand New Zealand to attract people who in actuality turn out to be highly unsuitable migrants. That's where I perceive my fight to be on EE, is representing the reality of New Zealand as I personally experienced it, as one of those unsuitable migrants, so I can prevent other people from making the same mistake I did. It's the only way I can make lemonade out of my own lemons! That's why many of the members post here - they are either venting or making sure the downside gets "out there", hoping that googlers will be able to find and read it through all the net-bombing by "paradise"-mongers who are trying to represent New Zealand as a place that it is NOT."

*Anti-intellectualism in NZ (Wikipedia)

"Unlike many European countries, but in common with other 'Anglo' countries such as Britain, the United States and Australia, New Zealanders do not have a particularly high regard for intellectual activity, particularly if it is more theoretical than practical. This is linked with the idea of 'kiwi ingenuity' (see above), which supposes that all problems are better solved by seeing what works than by applying a theory.

This distrust of theory manifested itself in social policy of the early and mid twentieth century, which historian Michael Bassett described as 'socialism without doctrines': although the policies of the first Labour and other governments pursued traditionally socialist goals, they were not based on any coherent theory. A major break with this tradition came in the 1980s when the fourth Labour and fourth National governments enacted a series of reforms based on free market ideology.

This reinforced many New Zealanders' distrust of intellectual theory, as many consider that the reforms increased poverty and inequality in New Zealand. Despite the prevailing mood of anti-intellectualism, New Zealand has reasonably high rates of participation in tertiary education and has produced a number of internationally renowned scholars and scientists, including Ernest Rutherford, J.G.A. Pocock and Alan MacDiarmid. It should be noted that both Rutherford and Pocock spent most of their professional lives in Britain. For many years this was a common occurrence, and a consequence both of New Zealanders' attitudes and the low population which made it hard to support major research.


Because New Zealanders often have to relocate to achieve worldwide fame and fortune, New Zealanders are keen to claim famous people as being New Zealanders, however short their residency in New Zealand might have been.

While people born in New Zealand are certainly identified as New Zealanders, those who attended a New Zealand school or resided in New Zealand also qualify, irrespective of national origin. This sometimes leads to famous people and innovations being identified as coming from both New Zealand and another country—such as the pop group Crowded House, the race horse Phar Lap and the actor Russell Crowe, all of whom have been associated with Australia and New Zealand.

Because the measure of New Zealand success was often how well a person did internationally, anything from 'Overseas' is seen as holding more cultural capital than the local equivalent, regardless of its quality.

This means that New Zealanders are often lured to the performances of "international acts". This is exacerbated by New Zealand's isolation and small population causing it to be skipped by the international tours of all but the most commercially successful musicians and performers. The flipside to this phenomenon is that famous people from overseas can be quickly embraced by New Zealanders if they visit regularly or for an extended period or claim an affinity with the country."

For today's posts - click here


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