Saturday, May 22, 2010

Three French Tourists Beaten Up In Northland Campervan Robbery

Attacks on tourists continue in New Zealand with the savage beating of three french tourists in Mangamuka, Northland
The Dominion Post covered the story, saying:
Three French tourists, attacked despite handing cash to robbers in Northland, feared for their lives, police say.
Two were taken to hospital with facial injuries after being attacked in their campervan, in a rest area south of Mangamuka, east of Kaitaia.
Detective Eddie Evans said the three awoke early yesterday to a man demanding money. The tourists, all in their 20s, handed cash through a window. Another man appeared and the pair broke into the van, attacking the trio and taking more property, Mr Evans said.
“The [tourists] met their demands and these guys have still proceeded to break into the campervan. They were freaked out … they feared for their lives.” The two men, described as Maori, left in an “old” car, that was possibly dark red or brown in colour.
In August three Chinese tourists were robbed at knifepoint in the Far North by two men they stopped to help. In October 2008 four Irish tourists had their van stolen at gunpoint in Dargaville. In 2006 a Dutch couple honeymooning in the Bay of Islands in a campervan were robbed at gunpoint and the woman raped. “
We’ve often called for tourists, especially those using campervans, to be given more information about the dangers of crime in New Zealand and advice about areas to steer clear of. Sadly, it seems that the message still isn’t getting out.

If you’re planning to take a holiday in New Zealand be sure to find out about the risks before you leave. If you are British you may wish to read the travel advisory issued about New Zealand by the Foreign and Commonwealth office here.

Low crime rate a ‘myth‘
Kevin Hicks, Chair of Neighbourhood Support Auckland City was once quoted as having said:
“…the popular notion that we have a low rate of crime Is yet another myth that has been perpetuated over the years.
Another myth is that we are a punitive society. Quite the reverse is true – we are actually a very lenient society with the chance of imprisonment falling from one chance in 30 in before the 1950s, to less than one chance in 200 by the 1980s. “It is very disappointing to see the debate still based on urban legends ideologically driven “research” when the statistics that are easily found on the government website say the exact opposite”. “Over those same years when prosecutions and imprisonment was falling, crime was exponentially rising” he says.
Crime is now
· impacting nearly quarter of a million kiwis per annum (ed. the pop. is only 4 million)
· damaging our reputation worldwide
· causing governments to issue tourism warnings due to our high crime rate
· spawned several websites now actively discouraging migration and tourism to NZ
· Costing the country over $12 billion per annum
· Hurting the most vulnerable people
Kevin says it is time to be honest and admit there is a problem and actually formulate some long term plans to deal with it. “
We agree with him and we will continue to highlight how crime impacts migrants and visitors to New Zealand until things improve.

In August of last year we wrote “Attack on three Chinese tourists – Reputation comments commence“:
“Labour’s tourism spokesman Kelvin Davis has been swift in issuing a strong rebuke as part of a damage limitation exercise following the knife point robbery and assault of three Chinese tourists in Northland. At least we’re not seeing the usual ‘isolated incident’ comment trotted out, so some credit to him for that.
Time to get tough on the causes of crime. Want to send out a really strong message to the community? catch those responsible and impose stiff sentences. In the meantime launch a honest campaign to warn visitors about the risks present in NZ so that they’re not sitting ducks – savvy consumers are nothing to be afraid of. A false image makes visitors vulnerable, use incidents like these to highlight the dangers and tell people they need to be as street-wise in NZ as in any other Western country with a high crime rate...”
For more see our Crime Stats and Facts page

Other tourist attacks and robberies include:

A family of Swiss tourists that were assaulted and racially abused in Kaitaia, Northland

Anke Kuballa and Marc Busch from Germany who were robbed in Whangarei, Northland

Two German tourists attacked in Paihia, Northland

Two American tourists were robbed at Shipwreck Bay in Northland whilst sandboarding

Asian woman, (probably Japanese) age 22, raped in her room by 2 teenagers in a home invasion in Opotiki, Northland

Three Chinese tourists attacked and robbed at Te paki, 90 Mile Beach, Northland, by two men they’d stopped to help

French tourist Anthony Cressend, beaten and robbed at campsite in Ahipara, Northland

Two Australian tourists robbed at knifepoint for their holiday money in Te Puke, SE of Tauranga.

Japanese tourist age 23 (female) kidnapped, robbed and assaulted in Rotorua by four men

French tourist (male) raped at gunpoint near Opotiki

American peace corp twins Adam and Alex Rahmlow, 21 were robbed of all their possessions by a man they tried to help in Amberley, Christchurch.

Dutch couple raped and robbed on a campsite in Tuatapere, NW of Invercargill, whilst on their honeymoon. (Dutch govt. issued a travel warning about NZ)

Two Koreans were attacked and robbed of their possession which included a laptop computer by a man claiming to be a gang member in Blenheim.

British tourist worker sexually assaulted near Hururu Falls, Northland when she was dragged off a walking track.

Canadian tourist Jeremie Kawerninski, kidnapped, assaulted and robbed in Lower Hutt, Wellington.

Dutch couple robbed and sexually attacked Haruru Falls, Northland whilst on honeymoon.

Two British women robbed and raped in their campervan at Tokomaru Bay, north of Gisborne.

Japanese tourist subjected to a prolonged and brutal sex attack in a communal area of a backpacker’s hostel in Turangi, Taupo.

Scottish woman Karen Aim brutally murdered by a youth in Taupo.

German woman Birgit Brauer murdered near New Plymouth.

Korean man Jae Hyeon Kim decapitated with a spade by white supremacist.

Japanese tourist robbed at gunpoint in Oamaru.

Irish cycle tourist Paul Mack bashed, robbed and urinated on throughout his NZ tour.

6 English and Danish tourists attacked and stabbed in Cashel Mall, Christchurch for having “foreign accents.”

Irish man Robby O’Brien beaten up in Westport.

Russian couple Denis Khotchenko and Lera Nesterova beaten and robbed in Milford, Auckland.

English woman knifed and sexually assaulted in a toilet block at an A1 motor camp in Kaikoura.

American campers Patrick Dykstra and Kelsey McGinley beaten and robbed at Whangarei Falls, Northland.

Australian tourist sexually assaulted on a street in broad daylight in Nelson.

Australian tourist subjected to a sex attack by Maia Crawford Rongonui whilst walking home to a backpackers in Christchurch.

Canadian tourist left with a fractured skull outside Silver Fern backpackers in Taupo.

Dutch tourist beaten and robbed at Lake Rotorua.

British man Paul Speakman and his young son beaten and robbed in a campervan at Athenree Gorge, Katikati.

Chinese woman attacked for speaking Chinese on a train approaching Petone.

Scottish visitor Stuart Martin who was left in a coma and with a boot print on his face after a street bashing in Taradale, Christchurch.

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Hoon Car Kills Kid In Christchurch

Many of our regular readers already know that New Zealand has world’s second highest road death and injury rates, twice that of countries like the UK. Much of the tragic loss of life and injuries can be attributed to two major factors – poor roads and bad driving, especially by ‘hoons’ or ‘boy racers’ and people under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In the 12 months to 21 May 2010 126 people aged 24 and under have been killed on NZ roads.
For many years kids as young as 15 have been allowed to drive whatever they can get their hands on in NZ, including high performance cars and there is no legal requirement for them to hold so as much as third party insurance, often with tragic consequences.

It may come as a shock to outsiders when they realise that this sort of thing happens in a country that is allegedly ‘such a great place to raise kids.’

A four-year-old boy, who was walking with his six-year-old brother and mother on Linwood Ave, Christchurch (the city is the hoon capital of NZ) died after he was hit by a car that lost control in wet conditions, shortly after 5pm last night. The driver had been seen drifting before the collision:
“The car slid from side to side on the road before climbing the footpath and hitting the children. One News described the driver as a boy racer doing drifts.
The six-year-old boy is in serious but stable condition at Christchurch Hospital.
Police were talking to the 18-year-old male driver.”
Linwood Avenue relative to other crash locations

View Larger Map

Fatal and serious crashes Christchurch City 2008

A report in the Herald added
Linwood Ave is a long stretch of road with multiple lanes, and residents said it was often used as a racetrack by boy racers. The road was wet yesterday after rain during the day.”

View Larger Map

Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family of the deceased child, and to his brother who was injured in the collision.

This tragic loss of a child’s life and the injuries of another,  may prove to be the last straw for the residents of Christchurch, who have endured a plague of hoons in and around the city for many years, police seem powerless to control the situation and there are bound to be calls to deal with the problem before any more innocent lives are lost.

It has understandably caused an outrage in the community, reflected in comments left in multiple threads on the Trademe boards, this is part of one of them:
Boy Racers your time is up
-”After today why would we want any car that’s a boy racer car on our roads.”

-”a small child was killed tonite by an out of control young male driver in chch”

-”Whatever, Judges are complete PUSSYS when it comes to sensible sentencing. Maybe if one our them had their kids killed by a boyracer we may see some common sense sentencing.”

-”Just heard the news re 1 child killed and another seriously injured when a boy racer car went out of control in Christchurch”

-”I saw the news headline but not the rest. Oh the poor family – crush him AND the car.”

-”Enough is enough!!!!!!!”

-”Agree time is up. They have had their warning and the softly softly approach. . Bring out the crusher and take the toys away. The ones that are playing by the rules you should be on the case of those indiots out there that have no respect for anyone.”

-”This was one driver, driving a boy racer style car (no eveidence he *is* a boy racer) and he must stand up and take responsiblity for his actions whether he was out of control on purpose or he just made a mistake – as everyone does. And to be fair, “ma and pa average” have more accidents every day (but that is not newsworthy) than Boy Racers ever have in month (as per police comment)”

-”you dont often see ma and pa average kill girls while speeding down fendalton road, or kill pedestrians while racing down Fitsgerald ave or kill innocent drivers while drag racing on ferry road. Do I need to continue? Accidents happen but deaths caused through sheer stupidity behind the wheel of a car should carry a murder charge. Fact is all the above examples were drivers between 18 and 25 in boy racer cars. Downplay it as much as you like but here in ChCh they are a problem and it is time they got sorted out once and for all.”

-”You don’t see it because the media get more of a response when a “boy racer” is involved. So they make more effort to give it a higher public profile. I lived in chch for a long time. Don’t tell me about the problem you have. It’s not half as bad as you would like to believe. I would have called myself more of a boy racer in my 2 door ford laser than half the kids rolling around that town at night. Majority of those kids just do laps because they have nothing better to do. Yes, there are some that are reckless but you will find them in every city. Christchurch happens to have a good circuit for it too, long, wide open streets, unlike somewhere such as wellington. And there are more houses living next to those roads, which means more people notice the sound of boy racers.
If wellington had the same type of streets, you would notice the boy racers more often and no doubt more accidents.”

-”I agree that it’s not just boy racers and If you’re a boy racer and a responsible one then I don’t have any issue with you. But with young people, fast powerful cars, peer pressure, maybe liquor and bravado combinne to give a rather leathal mixture.”

-”Look. Once someone has killed in a car, they KNOW not to be reckless again. The sentencing is nothing but more punishment. They will be tormented by what they have done. And don’t give me that ” Well they should be tormented and punished more blah blah blah” bullshit. The trick is to get through to them before they do it. It’s not the car that’s the problem, it’s the mindset.”

-”from the news report: A young eye-witness told The Press he saw a car “screeching” around a corner before hitting the group. Car tyres only screech when they’ve lost traction mainly due to excessive speed. My friend’s 20 year old son had an accident on his motorbike last week, doing 50km around a greasy tight bend, lost control, skidded along the road for 5 metres with the bike on top of one leg. Thankfully he hit no-one and nothing. He said it was his fault for driving too fast for the wet conditions and will take that corner at 30km from now on. Now THAT is the right (grown up) attitude.”

-”Last week there was a auction that got banned promoting Boy racers. Most of the ppls that came onto the thread supported Br’s. I really hope you are reading this thread tonight. It was a matter on time before things like this happen. That poor kid didnt deserve to die, When are the Rb’s going to learn. How many more kids have to die?”

-”Over and over again these young clowns are bringing misery and heartbreak to others and their own families because of this entrenched “must go fast” culture they have all subscribed to. This reckless disregard for the saftey of others coupled with that dip shit attitude of being ten foot tall and bullet proof. Adding to that is the fact that these young idiots have easy access to high performance vehicles which do require a reasonable amount of skill and experience to operate.”

-”in another thread someone says they have seen that car doing skids in the neighbourhood. You only have to look at the damage in the photos to see this guy was out of control and kids on the TV news said he came sliding down the road!I hope you will visit your mate when he is in prison – he will need your support. An 18 year old + high powered turbo rear wheel drive + wet road = recipe for disaster.” more…

In Feb 2009 in an attempt to rid the city of this problem, police took 67 boy racers off the streets of the city, in 2007 police prosecuted 500 people after a sting targeting boy racers in the area. However, these efforts seem to be futile if the comments left on the Trademe threads are anything to go by. more

Isn’t it time that long, straight stretches of road like this in Christchurch were fitted with speed reduction measures, isn’t it time that compulsory age weighted insurance was made mandatory in NZ.
Who wants to live in a city, or a country,  that’s little more than a race track?

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Name Suppression v. Rights Of The Child In New Zealand

You may remember the “well respected” professional man in Palmerston North, Manawatu,  who was uncovered with 300,000 pornographic images on his computer after being caught in an FBI operation, many of them were of children.

He was given name suppression and sentenced to 4 months home detention.

You may also recall the ‘world famous in NZ’ muso (we use the term loosely) that was also given name suppression and discharged after pleading guilty to the sexual assault of a 16 year old girl.

One case that is presently before the court in Wellington shows how the cult of status may be being used to protect alleged wrong doers in New Zealand: people who really should know better and be setting an example to the rest of the community.
Accused public servant a gentle fellow
“A father is accused of assaulting his son after he allegedly stole $700 from his mother.
The crown’s case rests on the boy’s initial testimony that his father dragged him down Manners Mall then pushed him into his car where he repeatedly punched him in the head…
But the boy later retracted his comments.
It just so happens that the boy’s father is a high profile public servant who has been granted name suppression. One can imagine the pressure this kid is under to stop dad from picking up a criminal record and losing his job.
“If there was any contact at all it was all unintentional,” he told the court via video link on Tuesday.
During cross examination of the defendant today, crown prosecutor Paul Dacre cited the boy’s initial statement in which he said his father had threatened to break his legs, and had punched him before and after pushing him into the car.
He also reminded the jury of three witnesses’ saying that they had seen the man punching the boy in the car.
“You hit him as punishment for taking the money. You said he was a thief and you were treating him like a thief,” he told the court.
So, is that how thieves are really supposed to be treated in New Zealand? so much for informing them of their rights and giving them access to legal representation.
But the man said the witnesses must have mistaken his removing the boy’s bag – bought with the stolen money along with a new cellphone – for punching…
The NBR gives a few more relevant details:
The jury at the Wellington District Court was shown a recording of a police interview with the complainant in which he said that his dad assaulted him after finding him on Manners Street near the McDonald’s fast food restaurant.
The complainant, 15 at the time, said he had ran away from home and stolen $700 from his mother’s bankcard with the intention of paying friends to stay with them.
After being discovered he said his father warned him not to run, saying “if you try to run I’ll break your legs”, he told the court.
He explained how his dad dragged him back to the car and smacked him on the back of the head which left a red mark.
After dragging him into the car he looked through his bag and after he found cigarettes he smacked him in the face, he told the jury.
He told the jury how he heard a girl ringing the police while he was in the car.
His father then told him “if I lose my job it’s your fault”, he said.
The teenager said in the video that it was not the first time his dad had assaulted him, saying that he had hit him after he got in trouble at school and after being caught shoplifting.”
Is it likely that three witnesses could be mistaken in what they saw? Not that it matters because the defendant’s word is likely to carry more weight than their collective evidence because:-

a. He is a “high ranking public servant”, who is important enough to have been granted name suppression. He has a lot to lose if found guilty.

b. He is a “gentle fellow” according to his wife.

It’s a long stretch from “gentle fellow” to allegedly punching your kid in the head and threatening to break his legs. If this is a “gentle” person in New Zealand we’d hate to meet a violent one. One has to wonder if his wife has been on the ‘sharp end’ of this type of gentleness on occasions.

Now, this may be unrelated of course, and there’s no way of knowing  if the two are linked, but has name suppression been granted despite the details of a very similar case already being in the public domain for over a year?

On Sat 15 May 2009 the ODT reported that an assault claim had been brought against Wellington’s top cop who was on leave on full pay over an allegation he’d assaulted his teenage son. When he was interviewed he was observed to have an blackened eye.  The article started with:
The head of Wellington’s police force is under investigation for an alleged assault on a family member….”
If the article is still there if you wish to read it, or you can find it here .

Is it any wonder that New Zealand is ranked joint third in the world by UNICEF for the highest number of  child maltreatment deaths? (1.2 per 100,00o children) only the US and Mexico have more. (source) and that One child is abused to death every 23 days?

A recent Independent Police Complaints Authority report stated that “urgent action” is needed by police when investigating child abuse cases. Some cases were found to have been languishing in the “to do” pile for 5-11 years.
“The failures may occur again unless shortcomings in police practices, policies and procedures are remedied.”
Here’s hoping that every abused child in New Zealand gets taken seriously when they bring an assault complaint, and that prompt action is taken to protect them and not their abusers.

See also blog posts
Families of murder victims protest suppression laws
Privileged name suppression furore, Sensible Sentencing Trust comments”
“Name suppression of Manawatu man condemned by child advocacy group”
“Name suppression farce continues”

“Massive Quakes Hit Bay Of Plenty”

The Trademe board was buzzing in the early hours of this morning with posters scared stiff about a prolonged swarm of shallow earthquakes that were hitting Whakatane and the Bay of Plenty overnight,  it shows how frightening and disruptive shallow quakes can be for those near the epicentre:

Massive Quakes Hit Bay Of Plenty

3:56am ” Been a rough night here for Whakatane…..had 3 massive quakes inside 2hours…..was a couple….real real huge shakes!!!….was felt in Whakatane, Rotorua, Ohope….
4.3 20km north of Whakatane 5km deep….2:38am
3.2 20km North of Whakatane 5km deep….2:48am
and another one at 3:30am…still to be scaled….”

3.59am “4.0 10kms north of Whakatane at 5km deep 3:42am”

4.03am “gonna go watch a movie to settle my nerves lol…there was also 8 recorded over the weekend in Whakatane….so something is starting to happen”

4.22am “4:21am….another quake”

4.33am “3.7 20kms north of whakatane 5kms deep 4;21am Poor people in Matata getting rocked by all this…”

5.04am “2 more quakes 5:01 and 5:03 but i think they’d be classfied as 1 quake not 2…”

“damn this recent one…had NO depth at all. 10km north east of Edgecumbe….3.7 and NO depth…5:03am

6.24am “massive for those who are sleeping right on top of the epicentres..i’m 20ks away and it scared the shit outta me, so what about those right on top of it”

6.31am “3.5 6:18am 10kms north of whakatane”

some reponses to him:
  • “they have been very much felt, i have felt 3 the noise wakes then it shakes i run out of bed thinking its never going to end its going to be big, then it stops lol but there have been so many hopefully it sorts it self out.”
  • “What a crap nights sleep… the first one I actually bolted out of bed to get the kids but then it stopped. Just as I would fall asleep, then another one would hit. First time in years I’ve had my son sleep in my bed!” 

It was the second cluster to hit the region this week and unsettle residents in the area. The Whakatane Beacon reported on 18 May :
“Swarm of earthquakes hit the Bay”
“THE Eastern Bay was hit by a swarm of earthquakes over the weekend.
The first was a 2.5 magnitude quake at 9.09pm on Saturday, 10 kilometres north of Whakatane with a shallow focal depth of 2.5km.
This was followed 30 minutes later by a larger 3.5 quake, also 10km north of Whakatane with a focal depth of 5km.
At 10.01pm and 10.36pm there were two 3.1 quakes, both 10km north of Whakatane and 5km deep.
The final shake of the evening had a magnitude of 2.9km and a very shallow depth of 1km. It was similarly centred 10km north of Whakatane. Then at 2.07am on Sunday there was a sixth quake of 3.3, 20km north of Whakatane. It had a depth of 5km.
Further away a 4.5 quake was recorded north-east of Matawai at 10.50am Sunday, with a focal depth of 5km. “
In 1931 a magnitude 7.8 quake devastated the Hawke’s Bay region. It was centred 15 km north of  Napier and it lasted for two and a half minutes.

There were 525 aftershocks recorded in the following two weeks. The main shock could be felt in much of the lower half of the North Island. (source)

In August 2006 experts at the Natural Hazards Management Conference in Christchurch warned that Rotorua, Taupo and Whakatane are set to be wiped out in a massive, long overdue earthquake and that people should be prepared for a catastrophic event:
Geology experts Tim Davies and Mauri McSaveney have predicted that an alpine fault earthquake is overdue, and would result in the East Cape ripping away from New Zealand, destroying the plateau that Rotorua is based on and taking Taupo and Whakatane with it.
The pair say the earthquake will strike “out of the blue” and cause widespread death, shut down power generators, create tsunamis within New Zealand and overwhelm emergency services.
“The most likely time [for the quake] is now. The next most likely time for it to happen is tomorrow,” Associate Professor Davies, of Canterbury University, told the conference.
“It will occur with no recognisable warning. We can’t manage it – we have to adapt to it.”
The pair have outlined a nightmarish scenario in the aftermath of the quake and are urging people to be prepared as best they can. Overseas help would be needed when the quake struck
The interval since the last event (in 1717) is longer than any interval between known earlier events.
Rotorua historian Don Stafford said the experts’ predictions were probably right and residents should be prepared.
“Who else could you listen to other than an expert. They have their reasons for why they believe they are worth listening to.”
Mr Stafford said historically there had been major eruptions and earthquakes in the Central North Island, with the most recent being Mt Tarawera in 1886.
“Lake Rotorua was a gigantic eruption 230,000 years ago. There have been gigantic eruptions for thousands of years.
“The historic massive eruption of Lake Taupo was recorded in China, Rome and Italy.”
Mr Stafford said the Central North Island had been relatively quiet during the past few decades.
“We have had it pretty sweet and I don’t doubt for one minute that there will be more big eruptions. … We would be foolish to presume that it won’t happen just because we are living here.”
Over the last thousand years, there have been four major ruptures along the Alpine Fault causing earthquakes of about magnitude 8.

These occurred in approximately 1100, 1450, 1620 and 1717 AD, at intervals between 100 and 350 years. The 1717 quake appears to have involved a rupture along nearly 400 km of the southern two thirds of the fault.  

Scientists say that a similar earthquake could happen at any time as the interval since 1717 is longer than between the earlier events. (source)

Large ruptures can also trigger earthquakes on the faults continuing north from the Alpine Fault.
A list of  30 most recent earthquakes in New Zealand may be found here.

Also See blog : “Mass aircraft grounding possible in NZ too, scientists say”

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pregnant Woman Threatened With Knife During New Plymouth Armed Robbery

It’s shocking that a pregnant woman was threatened with a knife during another armed robbery in New Plymouth yesterday, one of many to have hit the town over the years.

The attack was also one of the hundreds of armed robberies in New Zealand that we’ve been keeping an eye on over the last year and a half. Hardly a day goes by without one and they’re happening in all sorts of premises – banks, post shops, corner stores, hairdressers, supermarkets, clubs, bars, brothels…

Our thoughts and best wishes for a speedy recovery go to Mrs Sarah Fergusson. She was  one of quite a few people to have been threatened with a weapon during a robbery in the last two weeks.

On May 2 the Gloriana Dairy in the suburb of Highbury, Palmerston North was held up by a youth gang with a long barelled firearm that threatened the owners and customers link

Then on May 4 we wrote about a very brave young girl who stayed calm and phoned for help, as a gang of youths held a gun to her father’s head and threatened her mother when they robbed their Belt Road Dairy, New Plymouth. Their business had been held up numerous times over the last 4 years. link

Leighton Keith in the Taranaki News wrote this about the latest hold-up:
“A pregnant woman was threatened with a knife during the robbery of New Plymouth’s Whopping Big carrot yesterday.
The armed youth entered the shop and demanded cash from owner Sarah Fergusson, who is 20 weeks pregnant, about 10.55am.
A 16-year-old New Plymouth boy has been arrested and charged with aggravated robbery and will appear in the Youth Court today.
Mrs Fergusson’s husband Neil was across the road getting stock when the robbery happened but saw the offender sprinting off down the road.
“I thought something is weird with that,” Mr Fergusson said.
Sarah was on the telephone to police when he got back.
“She was a nervous wreck.
“She thought it was a joke to start with.
“She heard someone say give me the money and then she saw the guy was holding a knife,” he said.
His wife ran behind the counter and handed the till draw to the man who grabbed the notes and ran off.
Mr Fergusson said the couple had worked in retail for more than 15 years and were aware how they should behave during a robbery.
“Your life is more important than the money,” Mr Fergusson said…more
Hold-ups for far this month include a Bank robber who used taxis for raids in TIMARU yesterday
17 May: Kiwibank, East HAMILTON, “aggressive robber” robbed teller at gun point, noon link
14 May: National Bank, Hornby, CHRISTCHURCH, two men with knife, 1.15pm link
14 May: TAB Bar, Mount Albert, AUCKLAND, gunman held up staff at 9.30am link
11 May: Paetiki Super Value supermarket, TAUPO, man with “short rifle” took money from shop worker, night time robbery link
11 May: Armourguard Van, TSB Bank, AUCKLAND, no info on weapons link
11 May: Taxi Driver, NEW PLYMOUTH, held up by three men, long barrelled firearm, 10.30pm link
11 May: Store in Matarangi, CROMOMANDEL, man with gun, noon link
6 May: Bollywood Star Indian Restaurant, GISBORNE, 9.30am. Man with knife link
2 May: Belt Road Dairy, NEW PLYMOUTH, Robbers held gun to a father’s head and also threatened his wife link
2 May: Gloriana Dairy, PALMERSTON NORTH, robbed at gun point link

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The Death Of Jason Palmer - Another Prison Officers Thoughts

Ex Marine, Jason Palmer, was a relatively recent immigrant to New Zealand, he came over from the States eight years ago. We’re not sure what he did for a living in the intervening years or why 6 months ago he joined the Corrections service at Spring Hill Prison. A few days ago he died from injuries sustained in an assault by an un-named member of the Killer Beez street gang at that prison.

His death has highlighted the dangerous position that some officers face on a daily basis in NZ’s prisons and how vulnerable some of them feel without stab vests and batons. Mr Palmer had himself described his job as a “hand-to-hand combat situation” and had been trying to transfer to another prison because he felt unsafe at Spring Hill.

Many migrants end up working in the corrections service, often because they’re unable to find suitable and stable work in other occupations.

These posts are from a British man who recently joined the corrections service after living  in the South Island for a number of years. His background is in the trades.  His story could be a ‘Migrants’ Tale’ .  Is it taken from an emigration forum:
“A fellow Prison Officer died as a result of an assault and as i do this job day to day and can understand what goes on in these places, my heart goes out to his family and collegues who witnessed it. When will the GOVT realise we need side batons and cs spray, but oh no it will hurt prisoners feelings.
…A very sad time for all involved, we enter a wing in the mornings and after issuing a razor if they want one, we then collect them all and after that unlock one landing at a time, when issuing razors we only get a reply from them and a face to name muster check, some are still sleepy and we get a grunt, occasionally we get told to F##k off or other nice friendly words or greetings, you can sort of judge the way they will come out of their cells first thing, after a while you get to know their moods and traits, we have some on methadone programs, and they can be a handful in the mornings before their meds, we have ones with ADHD, ODD and all sorts of phychopathic behaviours, nice ay, so unlocking in the day any time can be a dangerous thing.
Apart from that we manage our guys very well and look after each others backs.
Yes this was a tragety waiting to happen, when we open the cell doors first thing in the morning you dont know what you are going to get, thye wake up shitty or wake up happy, and although we unlock a guy who is on a mangement plan with 3 officers, if that guy comes out full blast, then its game on, if they privatise Prisons we will all leave the job as it will get worse, safety wise, personally we need pepper spray and side batons.
This week we will get about 40 from the North Island, not sure why but we have had theses inmates before and they are trouble, so watch this space, we should get them this week, apparently they are those gang called the Killa Bees, so we will have a right mix to deal with, Mongrel Mob, Black Power, White Power, Crypts and now the Bees so let the fun begin, i do sometimes wonder as i walk down the wing with all these eyes watching your every move, not all the ones we have are up for smashing us, but the odd few go for it, the staff on my wing are awesome, we all watch where are collegues are and make sure we are all safe, the main satisfying thing is locking this scum bags up and keeping them away from the communities.
It is a satisfying career and the commardiery ( excuse the spelling ) is fantastic, we have fun each day with each other and the prisoners as well, i do really enjoy the job, and the wife works there to, and she loves it to, the good days far out weigh the bad, and we try to keep it that way.
But my thoughts are with our collegues family and the prison have set up a fund collection, no consulation, but a way of helping.”
N… Don’t forget to include his son Taylor back in Kingsville, Texas.

It’s unclear what proportion of the present prison population is made up of gang members.  A 2003 study showed that 11.3% of prison inmates were gang members. Of these, about a third each were Mongrel Mob or Black Power, with no other gangs having more than 5% of the imprisoned gang population. (source) A great deal more of them are free and walking around the streets of New Zealand.
According to the book Gangs by Ross Kemp, New Zealand has more gangs per head then any other country in the world, with about seventy major gangs and over 4,000 patched members in a population of about 4,000,000 people.

The greater part of the Kiwi prison population seems to be comprised of people with mental health disorders. If so one has to ask are prison officers are given specific training on how to deal with them and should officers be provided with more protective equipment?

A national Study of Psychiatric Morbidity in NZ Prisons may show evidence that a failure to provide adequate treatment and support to people with mental illnesses is reflected in the high number of convicts with mental health disorders. Nearly 60% of all inmates in NZ have at least one personality disorder:
The results indicate a significantly higher rate of mental disorder than that in the community. This is particularly so for schizophrenia, for bipolar disorder, for major depression, for obsessive compulsive disorder and for post traumatic stress disorder. All these conditions are associated with high levels of distress and disability, especially during the acute phases of these illnesses.
The National Study also revealed that nearly 60 percent of all inmates have at least one major personality disorder.
The National Study estimates that all inmates who have a current diagnosis of schizophrenia or a related disorder and bipolar disorder will require active psychiatric treatment and of those, 135 will require inpatient treatment. The life-time and one-month prevalence for these disorders is significantly higher than in the community. Of those inmates in the acute phase of these disorders, 30.6 percent are currently receiving mental health medication.”
This post may be updated…

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Jason Palmer Wanted To Get Out, Felt Unsafe

Earlier today we wrote about the tragic death of American immigrant Jason Palmer, a corrections officer at Spring Hill Prison. Mr Palmer died after an assault by an inmate who is alleged to be a member of the Killer Beez gang.

Mr Palmer, an ex member of the  US Marine Corp,  had been living in New Zealand for eight years but something led to him joining the prison service six months ago, a job he had reportedly described as a “hand-to-hand combat situation

The Waikato Times has published an update to their earlier reporting, in it they say that Mr Palmer had felt unsafe at the prison and had wanted to leave:
Spring Hill prison guard Jason Palmer had fears for his safety and had been contemplating a transfer before he was fatally assaulted on Saturday…
The US-born father of two was with two other prison officers who went to let the prisoner out of his single cell in the north Waikato prison.
Corrections Association president Beven Hanlon said Mr Palmer wanted out of Spring Hill. “Jason was looking for a transfer. He felt unsafe there.”
Mr Hanlon also confirmed five senior Spring Hill prison guards had transferred to Waikeria Prison over the past 12 months due to fears for their safety.
The Times understands two of those officers took a demotion, with one taking a pay cut of around $12,000 a year.”
Mr Hanlon says prison officers need greater protection against inmates:
“The police walk around with anti-stab vests, battens and pepper spray and are within a radio call. They have Tasers and even firearms. We’re not talking about firearms, were talking about everything else. At the moment, they know all we’ve got is a cotton uniform.”
Mr Hanlon says what is even more tragic is that they had told Corrections a number of times they were worried about staff security at Spring Hill.”
New Zealand has one of the world’s highest incarceration rates at 186 people per 100,000 population and there are 19 prisons.

The country is already under massive pressure trying to cope with an ever increasing prison population.
A massive recruitment drive in Western Australia may push Kiwi jails to the brink of collapse, according to Mr Hanlon almost a quarter of the officers at one prison have already made it through the first round of the selection process:
“We have one prison, Rimutaka, in Wellington, with 1200 prisoners and 400 staff – and over 90 of their officers have made it through the first stage of Western Australian recruitment.
Mr Palmer’s death and a growing unease over rates of pay and personal safety is likely to spur more into making the decision to leave.

A former Invercargill prison officer has told the press that the attack on Mr Palmer could have happened at any prison in New Zealand, adding that understaffing is rife among in the country and Mr Palmer should not have been dealing with such a dangerous prisoner after only 6 months on the job:
The fatal attack on a prison guard in Waikato at the weekend could have happened at any jail in New Zealand as the system battles with understaffing, a former Invercargill Prison officer said.
Brian Duncan, who worked at the city prison for 37 years before retiring in December 2008, said understaffing was rife across New Zealand jails, meaning inexperienced officers were being put at risk.
While assaults on corrections officers were “part and parcel” of the job, he questioned how Jason Palmer, 33, came to be handling such a dangerous prisoner six months into his job at Spring Hill Corrections in Waikato.
“He (the inmate) was in a segregation area – that is because he’d done something wrong and there were three officers there – that means he was a bad-arse.”
The jail was understaffed, Mr Duncan said.
“I know that up there (at Spring Hill) as staff leave they are not being replaced – exactly the same is happening here (in Invercargill).”
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American Jason Palmer Killed By Killer Beez Gang Member

Ex US Marine Corp member Jason Palmer has been named as the prison officer killed by an inmate at Spring Hill prison in the Waikato. Mr Palmer died from his injuries after an assault that took place on May 15 2010.

Members of the Trademe message boards have talked about under-staffing being  a problem at the prison

Sources have told reporters at the Dominion Post that the man responsible for the attack was a member of the Killer Beez, one of many gangs that terrorise the small islands of New Zealand (read Killer Beez a school for gangstas). Their activities and recruitment has spread out of South Auckland into areas like the North Shore, however their presence is often downplayed and kept out of news reports so as not to generate adverse publicity.

The press will often refer to gangs now as “rival groups” and muggers/armed robbers will be said to have been  “wearing bandannas” (code for gang members)

Even children aren’t safe from these gangs. A 4 year old boy was recently attacked in a park for wearing a red T shirt – the official colour of the Mongrel Mob and an innocent 15 year old kid was deliberately ran over in a gang initiation ritual.

Some towns in the country are very keen to play down their gang problem, one council even edited a Wikipedia page to remove references to gang crime.

Mr Palmer emigrated from America eight years ago, no doubt looking for a better and safer lifestyle in which to raise a family. He leaves behind a 13 year old son named Taylor Palmer who lives with his mother in Kingsville, Texas;  his present wife  Tracy and their two small children Riley, 5, and Abbey, 2. Our heartfelt condolences go out to them all for the sad loss  of their father and husband.

This from Katie Chapman and Tim Donoghue at The Dominion Post:
“An inmate accused of assaulting a guard who later died was a Killer Beez gang member under segregation, sources say.
Jason Palmer, 33, a former member of the United States Marine Corps who came to New Zealand eight years ago, died yesterday after an inmate at Spring Hill Corrections Facility, about 65km south of Auckland, punched him in the head about 1pm on Saturday.
Mr Palmer was one of three officers unlocking an inmate’s cell when the attack happened. The punch threw him to the floor, where he hit his head. He was taken to Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital suffering massive head injuries. Life support was turned off yesterday afternoon.
…The prisoner involved was under segregation at the time of the attack, and has since been shifted to the maximum security unit in Auckland Prison at Paremoremo. He will appear in Hamilton District Court this morning charged with assault. More charges are likely.
He has not been named, but sources told The Dominion Post that he was a member of the Killer Beez, a South Auckland gang.
Department of Corrections chief executive Barry Matthews said it appeared Mr Palmer was punched shortly after he and two other prison guards opened the segregated inmate’s cell.
He fell back and hit his head on the floor as the other two guards restrained the prisoner…more
According to the book Gangs by Ross Kemp (see video in the side bar to the right) New Zealand has more gangs per head then any other country in the world, with about seventy major gangs and over 4,000 patched members in a population of about 4,000,000 people.
According to the sociologist Jarrod Gilbert, New Zealand has had problems with youth and street gangs since the 1950s. However organised crime gangs such as those which currently dominate the New Zealand scene mostly date from the 1970s. ‘Gangsta’ style gangs have been a presence in New Zealand since the early 1990s but individual gangs of this type are typically short lived.
New Zealand gangs have generally been heavily influenced by their American counterparts. Although Black Power takes its name from the black liberation movement of the same name, in many ways it and similar gangs are much more akin to white American motorcycle gangs such as the Hell’s Angels. Since the early 1990s newer gangs have primarily been influenced by African American street gangs such as the Crips and Bloods.

Gangs of New Zealand (source Wikipedia)

Black Power was formed in the late 1960s in Whakatane, and its membership is primarily Māori and Pacific Islander. It has been involved with various kinds of crime, particularly drug dealing. Its symbol is the clenched fist of the American black power movement, and its colours are blue and black.

Hells Angels MC

The Hells Angels motorcycle club founded a chapter in Auckland in 1961 and has since taken over gangs in Wanganui. New Zealand had the first chapter of the Hells Angels outside the US.[4]

Highway 61 MC

The Highway 61 motorcycle club is currently the largest outlaw motorcycle club in New Zealand. The motorcycle club currently has chapters in Auckland, Hastings, Rotorua, Wellington, Christchurch and also Sydney, Australia.[8]. By 2008 it had expanded into Brisbane and the Gold Coast in eastern Australia.[9]

Mongrel Mob

The Mongrel Mob was formed and organised in Hastings about 1968 and, like its Black Power rivals, is primarily Māori and Pacific Islander. The gang has been active in organised crime and has been involved in several murders. Its symbol is a bulldog wearing a German Stahlhelm helmet, and the gang makes use of other Nazi imagery. Their colours are red and black. The Mongrel Mob is currently the biggest gang in New Zealand.


In 1977 the Nomads split from Black Power.

Road Knights MC

The Road Knights motorcycle club operates in the South Island. They are based in Invercargill, Timaru and Christchurch. The gang has ties with the Hells Angels, Red Devils and the Harris Gang and are rivals with the Mongrel Mob.

Tribesmen MC

The Tribesmen is a prominently Māori motorcycle club formed in the 1980s in Otara. It is connected to the Killerbeez youth street gang.
Motorcycle Gangs
  • Devil’s Henchmen MC (Christchurch and Timaru) – the original South Island outlaw motorcycle club, formed in Christchurch in 1973
  • Epitaph Riders MC (Christchurch and Greymouth)
  • Filthy Few MC (Tauranga, Rotorua, Waihi and Matamata)
  • Forty Five MC (Auckland)
  • Greasy Dogs (Mount Maunganui)
  • Headhunters MC (Auckland, Wellsford, Northland and Tauranga)[17]
  • Huhu MC (Tokoroa), started as a largely bush crew from the early 1950s, MC in the early 1970s.
  • Lone Legion MC (Blenheim)
  • Lost Breed MC (Nelson)
  • Magogs MC (New Plymouth)
  • Mothers MC (Palmerston North)
  • Outcasts MC (Hamilton)
  • Outlaws MC (Napier)
  • Red Devils MC (Nelson)
  • Satans Slaves MC (Wellington)
  • Sinn Fein MC (Upper Hutt)
  • Southern Vikings MC (Dunedin)
  • Templars MC (Christchurch)
  • Tyrants MC (Pahiatua)
  • Ara Toa Whanau MC (Palmerston North, Horowhenua, Heretaunga)
Ethnic Gangs
  • Hammerskins (Nationwide) – Nazi-skinhead gang.
  • King Cobras (Auckland) – formed in central Auckland during the 1960s, K.C started as a largely Samoan gang but including some Pakeha and people from other Polynesian countries.
  • StormTroopers (Dargaville)
  • Tribal Huk (Ngaruawahia)
  • FBI’s (Full Blooded Islanders)- Pacific Islanders[21] – Wellington/Nationwide[
Street/Youth Gangs
  • Bloods (Youth Gang,Nationwide)
  • Crips (Youth Gang,Nationwide)
  • Darksiders (Youth Gang – Connected to Black Power, Wellington)
  • Dope Money Sex (Youth Gang) – Central Auckland
  • Killerbeez (Youth Gang – Connected to the Tribesman)
A snapshot of gang activity in NZ 2009
Aug – The police association renewed calls for police to be armed following the second gang related shooting in seven years in the Palmerston North suburb of Highbury
July -‘Horror as gang man attacked’ -Diners looked on in horror as chairs were smashed on a man’s head at a cafe outside Dannevirke.
July – ‘Two men found guilty of gang pad attack ‘ A High Court jury found two men guilty of bashing a man at a Hastings gang pad.
June – A man is seriously injured in what appeared to be a gang related shooting in Foxton, Manawatu. Gang involved was ‘The Nomads’
June – Tuari Damyn Karipa-Rangi pleads guilty in the robbery and assault of two men in Christchurch. The gang associated with the violent mugging is named as the YSK – Young Skuxx Klicxx at youth street gang with 10-20 members
June – ‘Two bashed in gang turf clash’ -Two patched Mongrel Mob members were set upon and beaten up by at least four rival gang members in the car park of the Tamatea Pak’nSave supermarket at 3.45 in the afternoon.
June – ‘Prison brawl adds to gang tensions’
June – Gang violence out of control in New Zealand – In the Hawkes Bay region of the North Island, police say it is a matter of pure luck that they are not dealing with multiple murders after members of a local gang chapter tore apart a 21st birthday party, using knives, baseball bats and a machete.
June – Shots fired at house in James Streeet, Dannevirke as gang tensions rose
June – “When gang strife became warfare in the street” Sentencing was carried out for the day that open gang warfare and gunfire erupted on the street of Aranui
Feb – “Gang life is one of petty terrorism, violence and hatred” Said Wellington’s mayor after the gang related drive-by shooting in which three year old Jhia Te Tua died in her parents’ home. Gangs involved were Black Power and Mongrel Mob.
Feb – “The danger of serious youth violence is increasing as juvenile gangs take up weapons, Hastings’ top police officer has warned. In a police crime report to be discussed by city leaders, Inspector Dean Clifford says the suburb of Flaxmere has between 13 and 15 gangs for just 10,300 residents.”
Feb – Gang tension comes to Dunedin: a gang related drive-by shooting, Molotov cocktails thrown into houses, and last night there was a street brawl following a car accident on Andersons Bay Road.
Feb – “Mayors play down gang problem after brawls – Brawls in Wairoa and Gisborne including one between Black Power and Mongrel Mob members, resulted in arrests at the weekend but local mayors are defending their area, saying it does not have a gang problem”
Other gang related blog posts:
4 year old attacked for wearing red shirt (Mongrel Mob colours)
Tokoroa 15 year old Seth Tera deliberately ran over in gang initiation
North Shore Attacks, Trial Starts (updated) – Guilty Pleas Entered
Also see posts tagged GANGS on blogspot
From a thread on discussing Mr Palmer’s Death:
Spring Hill Prison
We have a friend who was an officer at Springhill and he left about 6 months ago as he said that the place was way understaffed and that something like this was going to happen and sadly it has.
Milton Prison
“Each prison is issued with a LIMITED amount of stab proof vests & batons but staff are not allowed to wear them on duty – only for certain incidents or tasks…The Dept. of Corrections mislead the public with how they do their press releases.
Last week, in Milton Prison alone, 4 staff were assaulted, one hit from behind be a meal tray & then kicked in the head whilst down. It’s insane, prison staff are unsafe and need better resources to deal with the violent prison population. The Dept. and Government don’t want to listen to the prison guards union because what is needed costs money & they’re too busy being cheap ar*es…”
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Sunday, May 16, 2010

"The Woeful Quality Of New Zealand Homes Is Making Us Ill"

If you’re thinking about moving to New Zealand take a while to familiarise yourself with the problems and many challenges New Zealand’s poor quality housing may present to you, particularly if you have asthma or have children that suffer with it.

‘Toxic homes’ are a nightmare for many in New Zealand and immigrants fresh to the country are often seen as naive or easy targets and “stitched up” into buying a property afflicted with Leaky Home Syndrome. It can be very hard to spot one of these homes, outwardly it may may look attractive but withinits walls may lurk a problem that could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars to put right and damage your health. And it’s not just the cheap, hastily erected properties that are affected, million dollar mansions are just as likely to leak like a sieve.

A Remuera real estate agent -Steve Koerber of Barfoot & Thompson- once admitted that migrants were particularly at risk because so many were unaware of the dangers of buying a New Zealand house:
“I have a big problem with the fact that hundreds of new immigrants and some locals are literally stitched up into potentially leaky or actually leaky homes. Their eyes are wide shut and some owners and agents are genuinely relieved to find them.” read more here
There’s an interesting feature article in the May 15-21 edition of the NZ Listener magazine (the full text of the article will be available on-line from June 5) that tells of the impact that the poor condition of some of the country’s houses is having on the health of the people who live in them.

Here’s the opening few paragraphs:
Sick as houses
by Sarah Barnett
“The woeful quality of many New Zealand homes is making us ill while sucking vast sums out of our wallets.
“Sitting in the back of the ambulance with her two-and-a-half-year-old son was the final straw for Stephanie Topham. She’d put Lucas to bed that night last December, only to have him wake up an hour later, struggling to breathe. The ambos told her he had the respiratory disease croup, and that Lucas needed steroids and a stay in hospital for observation. They noted that croup was unusual in the warmer months.
For the five months before that, while living in a damp, mouldy Papakura rental, Topham and Lucas had suffered one throat and chest infection after another. Lucas, who’d never been sick before they moved there in June last year, was diagnosed with asthma. His croup was the last straw: “We moved out of the house a week and a half after that. I was so glad to see the back of the place.”
New Zealand Homes Compared to Refuge Camp Huts
We’ve blogged many times about NZ’s leaky homes problem and the considerable effects it has on their occupants’ wealth and health.

According to a health expert 3 out of 4 homes in some regions of New Zealand were so cold, damp and mouldy that they were on a par with refugee camp huts….
The Dominion Post December 2008
by Ruth Hill
“At a workshop in Wellington yesterday on the health effects of leaky buildings, Associate Professor Jeroen Douwes of Massey University cited a 2005 study, which found mould in 75 per cent of the 1310 households surveyed.
This is comparable to a study of Palestinian refugee camps, where the rate was 78 per cent.”
Nationally, about 35 per cent of New Zealand households report mould in one or more rooms, compared with 18 per cent in Europe.
A survey by Otago University public health researchers of 33 peer-reviewed studies found exposure to damp and mould raised the risk for respiratory problems -wheezing, coughing and asthma – by 30 per cent to 50 per cent.
Conservative estimates put the direct health costs of leaky buildings in New Zealand at $61 million a year.
Public awareness of respiratory problems associated with damp houses remained low, he said.
“This issue affects potentially tens of millions of people worldwide, and there is a big case for more interventions and research.”
University of Otago public health researcher Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman, who chaired the workshop, said New Zealand’s high asthma rate could well be related to the incidence of damp houses.
Up to one in five New Zealanders suffer the chronic and sometimes life-threatening respiratory condition. Wellington’s Asthma Research Group has found that asthmatics allergic to mould had much more severe symptoms, and were almost twice as likely to end up in intensive care….”
The actual cost of this ‘Leaky Building’ epidemic is estimated to cost NZ$11 billion in repairs, according to the NZ Greens. This equates to about 10% of the country’s GDP. It is so high it could adversely effect the country’s credit rating.

And here’s some information you won’t see mentioned in those international quality of living surveys:

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