Friday, May 14, 2010

Spider Bites Candian Tourist on Northland Beach

It’s not just sting rays, sharks and rip currents (about 40 people drown every year off the beaches) that you have to watch out for on New Zealand’s coastline but the venomous Katipo spider too. New Zealand may not be as safe as you think it is.

Whilst enjoying a Northland beach a Canadian tourist was bitten in a very sensitive place by one of New Zealand’s more dangerous animals, the Katipo spider that’s related to the Black Widow.

It resulted in a 16 day hospital stay, a dose of anti-venom, myocarditis (heart inflammation) and other symptoms and a ruined holiday.

There were at least 14 bites from this species of spider over a four year period to 2006 and none of them were from Northland

From News (NB. news articles based on the original press release omit to mention the name of the Northland beach however we are given a few clues)
“The 22-year-old Canadian left his clothes in the sand dunes while he went for his nude swim at a Northland beach.

He slept on his return, according to a report on the case in today’s online NZ Medical Journal.

He woke to find his penis swollen and painful with a red mark on the shaft suggestive of a bite. He rapidly developed generalised muscle pains, fever, headache, photophobia [light sensitivity] and vomiting,” wrote Dr Nigel Harrison and colleagues who treated him at Dargaville and Whangarei hospitals.

By the time the man reached Dargaville Hospital, his penis was severely swollen, his blood pressure was up and his heart beat racing.

Chest pain and other symptoms developed the next morning and it was presumed he had been bitten by a katipo. He was treated with anti-venom medicine and rapidly improved.

However, heart problems persisted and he was treated at Whangarei Hospital and Auckland Hospital before returning to Canada.

Katipo spiders are known to have a highly specialised habitat in New Zealand sand dunes and will bite only rarely, and in defence.

This was the first known case of myocarditis, or heart inflammation, caused by a bite, Dr Harrison said.

A prompt diagnosis and the use of anti-venom resulted in a good outcome for the tourist, he said.”

Back in 2006 a warning was issued to nudists to take care as Katipo thrived and were abundant on Whangarei’s Uretiti Beach, one spider specialist found 25 of them in an hour.

Wikipedia has an entry for the native to New Zealand spider:

Katipo spider
Latrodectus katipo, the katipo, is an endangered species of spider native to New Zealand. A member of the genus Latrodectus, it is related to the Australian redback spider, and the North American black widow spiders. The species is venomous to humans, capable of delivering a comparatively dangerous spider bite. Katipo is a Māori name and means “night-stinger”. It is a small to medium-sized spider with the female having a distinctive black body with a white bordered red stripe on its back. North of 39°15′S females do not have a red stripe and are all black. The male is much smaller than the female and quite different in appearance, being white with black stripes and red diamond shaped markings. Katipo have a narrow habitat, being only found living in sand dunes close to the seashore. They range throughout most of coastal New Zealand, but are not found at the southernmost regions. Spinning an irregular tangled web amongst dune plants or other debris, they feed mainly on ground dwelling insects.
After mating in August or September, the female produces five or six egg sacs in November or December. The spiderlings hatch during January and February and disperse into surrounding plants. Due to the loss of habitat and colonisation of their natural habitat by other exotic spiders, the katipo is being faced with extinction.

A bite from the katipo produces a toxic syndrome known as latrodectism. Symptoms include extreme pain and potentially systemic effects, such as hypertension, seizure, or coma. Bites are rare and deaths have not been reported since the 18th century. An antivenom is available in New Zealand for treatment. The katipo is particularly notable in New Zealand as the nation is almost entirely devoid of dangerous native wildlife. This unique status has led to the spider becoming well-known, despite sightings being very rare.

New Zealand’s other potentially dangerous spider is the Whitetail whose bites can lead to serious and potentially life threatening symptoms, one woman in Rotorua was hospitalised for 4 days after one bit her on the arm. The head of the hospital’s emergency department said that as many as four people a week went to the hospital with mysterious bites. See story here 

Also see:  Canadian tourist Matt Brazeau injured in another stingray backlash

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Migrant Tales - Emigrating When You're Older

 Continuing in our series of Migrants’ Tales – first hand accounts of the migrant experience in New Zealand taken from locations around the net.

Today’s Tale is taken from the self help and support forum for migrants
In it the British poster talks about what it was like to migrate to New Zealand as an older person, and why they left after two years of struggling to live in the North Shore, Auckland – an upmarket area very popular with immigrants from both Europe and Asia:.
“My wife and I are in our mid 50s and returned to UK last month after nearly 2 yrs living & working (and struggling) on Auckland’s North Shore. We, too, experienced many similar aspects of work life as you say you have, and that was certainly a large factor in our own deciding to bail out.

e have now decided to look on the last 2 years as having had an adventure, although it’s very tempting to mirror your own view of it all as really having been a waste of time. Certainly one thing we noticed was how every one seemed to be, as I put it, “Desperate For Every Last Dollar“, and that’s probably why so many NZ workplaces often seem to want more than their pound of flesh. It’s a poorer economy, of course, than that of the UK or even OZ, and this spins off in so many ways throughout Kiwi workplaces, the standard of living and lifestyles. The tourist brocures etc don’t show this side of the coin, and I’m really sorry that your experience hasn’t worked out, but I do hope that at least when you return to the UK you will have the advantage of being back in a country and culture etc. which you presumably grew up in and are 100% accustomed to. Good Luck!

It certainly was an adventure in being resourceful, in learning how reticent many folks were where we lived, in coping with so many exasperating aspects that grew more frustrating as time went by.
I’m talking about things such as paying income tax on every single dollar we earned, neighbours who kept their selves to their selves to the point where they never even passed the time of day over the garden fence; no central heating in our house with no curtains, no double glazing, no insulation and not even a fireplace or wood burner, invading bush cockroaches, choking and filthy car exhausts(Clean Green NZ???!!!), wages around 25% or more under what we earned in the UK, overall cost of living up to 30% more; careless designs such as no overflow vents in sinks and baths, no individual plug fuses – and a spur domestic electricity wiring system which a Kiwi sparky agreed is less safe than the UK’s fused plugs and ring main system; social starvation/isolation because Kiwis tend to stick to family and close childhood friends only, ugly warehouse retail sprawl on the North Shore and appallingly dangerous road marking and signs systems that obviously haven’t been given more than a moment’s thought by planning departments only too anxious to flee the office at 4pm sharp in search of their beloved bachs, BBQs, BMWs and boats.

What made us roar with laughter was when we heard radio adverts in the daytime advertising a brothel…. yet at the same time a woman was admonished by North Shore City Council for sunbathing topless!!
Roll with it.

Just a few of the things that more than peeved us as time went by.”

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Rights Of The Victim V. Rights Of The Accused In New Zealand

Or “The Nerds Strike Back”-  Birkenhead Burglars, Burglary in New Zealand; one citizen’s attempt to achieve justice when the law failed him.

Why didn’t the police do the investigation work that Dave Crowther did? they could have found and detained the thieves without the embarrassment of  Mr Crowther having to resort to using the internet to track them down.

Are burglaries on the North Shore so frequent that police have given up trying to apprehend the culprits?

For background see our New Zealand Crime Information and Statistics page and recent stories about vigilante action in New Zealand.

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Racial Bullying WAS A Factor In Hamilton Girls’ High School Knife Incident

A security guard at the school and her husband have confirmed to the press that racial taunting and bullying may have been factors that led to a girl bringing a knife into school and threatening people.

The security guard had taken time off work following the incident and was said to be distraught because the girl had been bullied over her family. It is thought that the girl was an immigrant from Iraq whose father had died recently.

For the  background to this story and an account of New Zealand’s appalling record of bullying  and “culture of brutality” please see our blog entry “Knife incident at Hamilton Girls’ High School linked to bullying

From Belinda Feek in the Waikato Times:
“A Hamilton Girls’ High School pupil who allegedly chased another girl with a knife may have been the victim of race-based taunting by a group of Indian students.
Stephen Hawkins, whose wife Linda is a security guard at the school, said the alleged taunting had been simmering for some time and his wife had feared tensions would escalate.
“It was a race-based kind of stand-off involving (a group of) Indian girls.”
The school went into lockdown for 15 minutes just after 11am on Thursday after a 15-year-old student chased another pupil with a knife.
Mr Hawkins said the girl was found with three knives in her possession which she had bought from The Warehouse during the morning break.
The Year 11 pupil was arrested by police.
The girl appeared in Hamilton Youth Court yesterday on charges of assault and threatening to kill.
Mr Hawkins said the girl bought the knives during morning break after a confrontation earlier between a group of her friends and a group of Indian girls.
This girl that had the knife had been bullied by the girls,” he said.
“It had been coming for some time and my wife thought that something would happen,” Mr Hawkins said.
He praised both the actions of the school and his wife, who had calmed the girl down and recovered a third knife from her before taking her to the principal’s office and sitting with her while waiting for police.
Mrs Hawkins had felt the effects of the incident, he said and had taken yesterday off work.
She was distraught because the student had allegedly been bullied over her family.
Mr Hawkins said he that felt for the accused student but did not condone her actions.”
Also see posts tagged Racism

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mongrel Mobster Attacks 4 Year Old For Wearing Red In Whakatane

Many people say they want to live in New Zealand because ‘it’s such a great place to raise kids‘, or ‘that kids can be kids for longer there‘.  Of course the reality is very different, see previous post.

Well, if despite that, you are still planning on making the move into this “culture of brutality” be sure to see that your kids don’t wear the wrong colour clothing because one poor mite in a park in Whakatane, Bay of  Plenty (a Black Power stronghold) was assaulted by a man in his 20s for wearing a red T shirt – Mongrel Mob colours.

Chose your colours with care because you may unwittingly be exposing your kids, or yourself, to the danger of random and unprovoked violence.

According to a report from the NZPA:
“The boy was playing in Whakatane’s Cutler Crescent reserve last week when the gang member, thought to be in his mid 20s to early 30s, approached the child while his father’s back was turned, poked him in the chest and shouted at him to remove the shirt, said Senior Sergeant Bruce Jenkins of Whakatane police.

The man then physically removed the shirt from the boy before his father could intervene.

Whakatane is known as the territory of the Black Power gang, which is associated with blue-coloured clothing.

The boy’s parents, who were shocked by the incident, declined to comment, but Mr Jenkins said police were treating it very seriously.

“We are very concerned about the age of the victim in this incident. That someone is picking on a kid in this manner is very worrying and we are looking to hold them to account for their actions.

“I think this offender is despicable and the police are intent on finding out who is responsible.”

The man was described as a male Maori, clean shaven with black short hair and about 170cm tall. He was wearing a blue T-shirt with “Whakatane” in white lettering on the front, black pants and blue bandannas around his wrists and neck.

There have been a number of gang colour-related assaults in the Bay of Plenty recently.

In November last year a teenager was assaulted by a group in the carpark of the Whakatane Pak’N Save because he was wearing a red t-shirt.

In January last year Murupara 16-year-old Jordan Herewini was run down and killed outside his home by a vehicle stolen from a family member.

Mongrel Mob members from Kawerau were charged with his murder. At the time of the slaying, the boy was wearing a yellow shirt – a colour associated with the rival Tribesmen gang.”

For more about gangs in New Zealand read New Zealand’s Gang Problem on Blogger
Or any of the posts tagged Gangs,
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Te Puke Teacher Stabbing - Bullying To Blame

The family of a 13 year old youth, who stabbed his teacher multiple times with a kitchen knife on 10 May, say that the boy had suffered in a school that had a “culture of bullying” – Te Puke High School.

This comes as no surprise since most of us know that “Kiwis are worst in the world for bullying” which was confirmed by a Massey University study in April of this year.

Furthermore it is known within the country that “New Zealand’s schools lead the world in bullying”, according to a major international study in December 2008 which showed that three quarters of primary school children had been bullied during one month.

Auckland paediatrician and former Children’s Commissioner Ian Hassall said the high rates of bullying reflected a “punitive culture”(source):
It’s not just children who are bullied; adults bully as well,” Hassall said. “We do have a punitive society that rather believes in punishing people and threatening them, so it’s not surprising that children pick up on this and go punishing one another.”
Peter Dunne, leader of the Unite Future political party, was once quoted as saying:
“anti-bullying, and “character education” programmes were needed in primary and intermediate schools.
The culture of brutality that we have tolerated for too long has to stop,”
New Zealand’s Human Rights Commission released a report in which it identified significant human rights issues in relation to violence in New Zealand Schools.(more here)

One of the manifestations of that culture of brutality is the escalation of violence in New Zealand’s schools with attacks on both pupils and students. 777 teachers were assaulted at work during 2008-2009 .

And unfortunately it may have been a factor in the attack on Steve Hose on 10 May.
According to a Herald report:
“…A close whanau member told the Herald the family were still in shock, saying the attack was “completely out of character” for the Year 9 pupil.
The man said the boy was “little and placid” and a “quiet thinker” who, because of his size, had been a target for bullies.

He had been suspended from school this year for about three days after he apparently fought older students who he claimed had been picking on him.
The man said the school had a culture of bullying and people would write affidavits in support of his claim.

“There were a number of occasions where [the boy] was bullied. I am of the opinion this is what led him to do what he did.

“Still, this is completely out of character … we don’t condone what has happened but we need to know what could have triggered him to do something like this.”

The school principal, Alan Liddle, said the school had no formal record or allegations of the boy being bullied.

He said an internal investigation would deal with all circumstances surrounding the attack.

The boy had been in the care of his grandmother at her home in Manoeka on the outskirts of Te Puke after his parents split when he was a few months old.
He apparently had asthma, but enjoyed playing rugby league.

His relative said he was kindhearted and would help prepare his younger cousins for school and could be seen helping his elderly neighbours with their gardens and lawns.

“You could say he has had it pretty rough but things could have been worse if he had stayed with his parents.”

The report went on to say that security guards had been brought into the school but didn’t say if they were to be a permanent feature:
“Six security guards patrolled the school grounds yesterday. They said they were there for the students’ protection and to prevent them from being harassed.

Students the Herald spoke to gave mixed reports of the incident. A Year 9 pupil said the attacker had been “annoyed” by Mr Hose immediately before stabbing him.

Another student said the attack was completely unprovoked, and the boy had stabbed Mr Hose from behind while the teacher was sitting at his desk.”

Will it take the death of a teacher, or student, to make people take this issue seriously and make the government take the lead in combating New Zealand’s culture of brutality?

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Immigrants Face Third World Living Conditions In New Zealand

Lincoln Tan, the immigration affairs reporter for the NZ Herald has written about the desperate financial plight of immigrants in New Zealand who have been reduced to living in vehicles. Some can’t even afford campsite fees.

The insanitary conditions, often lacking basics such as hot water and electricity are absolutely, positively third world.

With the cold long winter setting in, living conditions are set to become even more miserable for many people as skilled professionals from OECD countries become New Zealand’s new ‘trailer trash‘.

Those not forced into either living rough on the streets or in vans, are crammed illegally into over-crowded houses. A three bedroom house in the affluent North Shore is home to 11 people - three families sharing one property.

Well at least they’ve got a safe, warm roof over their heads” you’d think? Not necessarily, the condition of some NZ homes isn’t much better than vans  (see Toxic Homes Still a Nightmare for Many in New Zealand) and 250,000 New Zealand homes are so damp, cold and poorly insulated that they ruin people’s health.

Once more, it’s a story of more lives ruined by emigration and of bait and switch. The reality of the ‘Kiwi dream’ is a far cry from the  images used to attract migrants from countries such as Singapore (see A Singaporean Says Living in NZ a Different Experience)

This is what appeared in The Herald:
“Cheng Goh, of Settlement Support North Shore, says high rents have resulted in many people struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Some had become really desperate.

Unlike locals, who could move in with family and friends, newly arrived immigrants faced limited options on who they could turn to, she said.

It’s quite sad to see people who come here to set up a new life, only to have their lives turned upside down,” said Ms Goh.

“It’s just unfortunate that when you come at the wrong time, everything seems to work against you.”

She said many failed to do enough planning for their New Zealand move and under-budgeted. The recession – which cost many migrants their jobs – and high rents had aggravated the situation.

A migrant worker from Russia said he spent his last $1500 in February on a van which had now become his home.
“Before I bought the van, I had nowhere to go and I had been sleeping on the streets since I lost my job last year, but I knew winter was coming and this is the cheapest way to make sure I have shelter,” he said.

The former engineer, who has a work permit that runs until September next year, says he knows which office and commercial buildings have shower facilities that he can use early in the mornings before workers arrive.

A 33-year-old German architect, who was made redundant a month after she gained her New Zealand residency last year, said she had been living in a $1200 van with her partner, also unemployed, since Christmas.

“I have to think positive. I came here with dreams to own my own home, and the van is my first home,” she said. “It is temporary and I can it take with me anywhere.”

An unemployed woman from the Philippines who has two children is sharing a three-bedroom rental house with two other families.

She did not want to be identified because the landlord did not know that 11 people were living at his North Shore property.
Before people give up their comfortable lifestyles in other countries for the ‘Kiwi dream’ they should know:
The settlement support co-ordinator at Auckland Regional Migrant Services, Bevan Chuang, said it was hard for new migrants because those who had been here for less than two years were not eligible for support from Work and Income.
“So these people have got no choice but to find ways to help themselves if they want to stay in New Zealand.”
But all these people came to New Zealand because they were led to believe that there are skills shortages in their areas of work. Why are they not working and why are people like them still being attracted to emigrate?  (see the Singapore link above)

Skilled emigrants should be asking themselves – Is NZ worth the effort, why bother? aren’t there other countries that offer us a far better deal?!

See also: Phillipines Warns Citizens About NZ Work To Residence Scheme -
Philippines consul-general Emilie Shi says Immigration New Zealand is not doing enough to warn would-be applicants about the difficulties of finding a job or telling them that Kiwis will be given preference by employers.

Immigration New Zealand continues to say what a great place this country is to come live and work in, but they cover up the fact that it is very difficult to find a job here, or that they will be treated as second-class workers under the scheme,” Ms Shi said…”
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