The lawless north has earned another credit to its name this afternoon.
The small town of Whangarei was placed under lockdown by the armed offenders squad after police received multiple reports of gunfire directed at a property in Willow Place near Silverstream Road. The town’s hospital and a number of schools also went into lockdown.
Northern communications section manager John Fraser said police had received multiple reports of gunfire, ranging between two and three shots, at 2pm today.
As a result State Highway 14, commonly known as Maunu Rd, had been in lockdown while the Armed Offenders Squad searched properties, including one “target address”. Roads have since been reopened.
Northern communications spokeswoman Sarah Kennett said police had since apprehended three men in relation to the gunfire as well as a firearm…source
An injured man has been taken to hospital from Willow Place and two other men have been arrested.
Also see the video at 3News Shots fired in Whangarei, hospital in lockdown
Looks like the tourist attack season is well underway in the Lawless North.
Blink and you may’ve missed this report in today’s edition of Stuff.co.nz. It has taken four days for police to come forward with details of the crime and to appeal for help. The north is nothing if not laid back.
A 48 year old German tourist has been beaten senseless and left with serious injuries after an attack in Waipu on Thursday 13th November. Police have yet to find his tent, bicycle and other belongings.
Leave the tourists alone
One Northland judge has already fired a shot across the bows of the region’s criminal element and has just jailed one of them. Many of these men make a lucrative income from robbing overseas tourists. a report about one of them has just appeared in the NZ Herald
As Northland prepares to welcome an influx of visitors this summer, a judge has warned that criminals who target tourists and their belongings will face the full force of the law.
Judge Greg Davis sounded the warning in the Whangarei District Court this week while sentencing a young man who broke into four cars hired by overseas tourists that were parked at A.H. Reed Memorial Park in Whareora Rd, Whangarei, and stole high-value items.
Hare Shortland, 23, stole nearly $8000 worth of items. He attributed his offending to a lack of income and offered to pay reparation at $100 a week from benefits he intended to receive from Work and Income, but Judge Davis said that wasn’t realistic… more here
Meanwhile, in other Northland crime news…a man caught speeding while under the influence of methamphetamine with a German hitch-hiker in his car has appeared in court.
The charges stem from an incident on October 25 when Martin led police on a 20-minute chase in Paihia, reaching speeds of 150km/h after police attempted to stop the vehicle for speeding. Compounding the situation was the fact that a German tourist was in the car. He also pleaded guilty on Wednesday to unrelated charges of possession of utensils for the manufacture of P, possession of cannabis seed, male assaults female, breach of bail and breach of release conditions… more here
Still thinking about visiting Northland this summer?
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Above – the Palmerston North house outside which the raid took place.
New Zealand’s reputation as a safe place took another knock today as armed police threw gas canisters into a house in College Street, Palmerston North at 1.15pm.
According to a Stuff.co.nz news report, which contained frightening pictures of armed police taking shelter behind a police car, it appears the officers were simply effecting a routine arrest.
“Police have deployed gas canisters in an effort to flush out a wanted man from a house in Palmerston North.
Armed police arrived at the house about 1.15pm today to carry out arrest warrants and made three arrests, but police are still trying to get a remaining 32-year-old man to come out of the house.
A 37-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman, both of Palmerston North, have been arrested, and will appear in the Palmerston North District Court tomorrow.
The man has been wanted for arrest since January on a number of driving and drug offences, and the woman has been wanted since October on assault and receiving matters.
A 26-year-old man was arrested and released with a warning for obstructing police…” more here
NZ Police usually only go in mob handed when there’s reason to believe the perps are armed. Reading between the lines there is likely to be gang involvement in today’s arrests (mention of “Wanganui connections”).
In other Palmerston North news. Aggressive beggars have been scaring the living daylights of motorists by opening their drivers’ side doors.
Brazen beggars have upped the ante in their quest for money by opening car doors to harass motorists.
In Palmerston North, acting inspector Brett Calkin said he knew of at least two instances in the past week of beggars approaching cars and opening the driver’s side door just after the driver had parked on Broadway Ave.
“We’ve had a couple of reports of that happening, particularly to elderly people, it can be quite frightening. We want them to call us straight away, or if someone sees it happening to call us, or go into the nearest shop and use the phone to call us from there.”… more here
Palmerston North, which has a known gang problem, gained infamy a few years ago. All references to its crime problem and gang activities was removed from its Wikipedia page because they were putting-off doctors and other professionals from moving to the town. Read Palmerston North’s Wikipedia Entry Censored to find out more.
Youth and other gangs
- “The suburb of Highbury has had the most gang-related, violent crime incidents (including shootings, serious assaults and stabbings) nationwide in the past decade. Members of the Highbury community have attempted to alleviate the negative aspects and perceptions of the suburb, but its violent past has made it known to other residents of Palmerston North as the most dangerous part of the city.”
Stun Grenades fails to faze Granny, school in lockdown
Edit: Three days later armed police in Whangarei threw stun grenades into a house in Mahana Place, Raumanga in Whangarei. An 88 year old neighbour said she’d lived in the street a long time and “learned to keep her head down during such action”. Meanwhile, Horahora Primary School parents risked police wrath by ignoring police instructions and picking up their kids, despite the school being placed in lockdown. Just another routine days work for NZ’s police
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New Zealand’s reputation as a safe place to live has taken another knock with the news that a Whangarei supermarket (above) was held up by a man with a shotgun on Monday night. Not the sort of thing you’d expect to happen when you’re queuing up in your slippers to pay for your daily milk and bread.
An armed police response unit, called the Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) , were called to local home after the alleged gunman fled from Tikipunga’s Countdown. Tikipunga is one the biggest suburbs in Whangarei.
The robbery comes at a time that the police union warn about a knife being taken to their budget, a murder investigation is launched after a woman’s body in found in a drain in Napier (the place where a gang recently fired a gun into a rugby crowd) and police finally get the go ahead to keep Glock pistols and Bushmaster rifles in every vehicle in their fleet.
You can read more about the actions of the AOS in New Zealand in our blog here
This week on Television New Zealand’s Close Up:
“Reporter Jehan Casinader investigates what life is like in one of our toughest towns. Sex for drugs and organised fights – and we’re talking about teenagers. What can be done to help?.”
The show hasn’t even aired yet and no one know what the town is, but read some of the comments that have already been left on the Close Up Facebook page : http://www.facebook.com/closeup/posts/10150263419587268
Update 18 July: The town was later named as Kawerau in the Bay of Plenty. Watch the video here, parental discretion is advised.
“Who really cares where this is? its happening all over the country. I have been overseas for the last two years and since I have returned 6 months ago, I have been very suprised by the amount of street drug dealers that have randomly approached me. I would say about 40% of the times I have been out in Central Auckland I have been approached. One time out henderson i was approached during the day time. I cant recall this ever happening to me in the past. all of them were young, one was only 16!”
@Kaye Basset Millar: Bullshit! Out of the 4 kids who used to get regular straps at my school, one is dead, 2 are drug dealers and the other is fried on P. The strap never taught them to respect their elders. Their parents fcked their lives up for them. Adults have a lot to answer for when it comes to troubled youth!!!
“reaping what we’ve sown ……this is not just one tough community there are models of this in ever town and city in this country ……….social fail”
Levin was mentioned but here at E2NZ we’re guessing it could be Whangarei.
Read our blog “Kids in New Zealand, the village lets them down” (May 2010)
“Can you believe it? parents and caregivers in Whangarei are said to be organising fights between their kids to sort out petty playground squabbles. We know that Michael Laws called the kids in the far north ‘feral‘ but this really is hard to believe…“
Or it could just as easily be Kaitaia, or Gisborne. See “Kaitaia’s Kids’ Drunken Night Of Rampage“ (April 2010)
Residents of the small Northland town of Kaitaia suffered $10,000 in damages after a ‘group’ of 10 tanked up kids rampaged through the town for three and a hlaf hours on Monday night last week. Three and a half hours, where were the police at the time?…
The sad truth is that Kaitaia suffers from the same problems that afflict many New Zealand’s socially and economically deprived communities, there are ‘Kaitaias’ all over New Zealand.
Take for example Gisborne, another small town on the mid-east coast of the North Island. You may wish to read our post from 14 April 2010 “Armed Robbery and Drugs, 80% or more smoke weed in Gisborne” and read some of the comments readers made to the Gisborne Herald about their town’s drug problem…
…But that is just two towns out of the whole of the country! you say, you can’t judge a whole country by that.
But there are too many other places with the same problem for the pattern to ignored.
Places like Huntly, dogged by rampant crime. The small towns of Hawke’s Bay – Napier, Flaxmere and Hastings where in the latter a gang of kids smashed their way through the CBD at 4am. Small villages like Mapua where a brawl over the Easter weekend involving 30 people in the early hours of the morning prompted residents to call for a greater police presence.
There are no signs of it abating either, the once cohesive small towns that used to be the backbone of New Zealand are rapidly falling apart, crime and disorder are out of control, drug and alcohol abuse are rife and the country lacks the resources to stop it…”
Then there’s Porirua where the Midnight Express is getting out and tacking the problem head on, read New Zealand a great place to raise kids? Porirua’s Midnight Express (May 2010)
But as Ryan and Jonathan said – the toughest town could be anywhere in New Zealand, we’ll be watching to see what Close Up thinks.
In the week that the NZ government made a surprise announcement about a drop in the rate of reported crime, and murders (note how the manslaughter figures weren’t mentioned) a group of Northland primary school kids took to the streets to protest about crime in their neighbourhood.
From the Northern Advocate
A youth hikoi through an under-fire Whangarei community yesterday urged residents to make a stand against the gangs, crime and drugs plaguing their suburb.
About 100 youngsters from Otangarei Primary School and the suburb’s kohanga reo, accompanied by their parents, marched through Otangarei to make a stand against the violence and crime that is affecting them. They also urged residents to put aside their fears and report any criminal activity in the suburb…” read the ful report here
The paper went on to explain how the suburb had been plagued by a number of events including families moving out in January as a power struggle between two gangs (Black Power and the Tribesmen) threatened to boil over.
Earlier in March police reported that “Otangarei residents were often scared to identify offenders for fear of reprisals.” and that their work was being frustrated by people using police scanners to tip-off their mates about police actions.
According to the Advocate the kids were carrying banners saying “Keep Us Safe,” “A Clean Community,” “Gangs Suck,” “No Child Abuse,” “We Want a Peaceful Otangarei,” “No Graffiti,” and “No Fighting“
These children want their elders to get the message that they’ve had enough, they want to live in a safe community.
The message here is that if you live in a community that’s affected by crime put aside your fears about retaliation, if kids can do it so can you - report it to the police and make sure they record it, otherwise the government may use the drop in recorded crime as an excuse to rest on its laurels, or worse still make cut backs to police funding:
Savage cuts to police funding in this year’s Budget will undermine the progress that is finally being made in terms of reducing the level of crime in New Zealand, says Labour’s Law and Order spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove.
“The police are to be congratulated for achieving a 6.7 percent drop in total recorded crime in 2010,” Clayton Cosgrove said.
“But around the country senior police staff are right now having to grapple with demands to make drastic cuts to the police budget for the 2011-12 financial year.
“The progress in terms of a reduced crime rate can be traced back to the huge increases in police funding and police numbers that were instigated by Labour in the 2005-08 term of government,” Clayton Cosgrove said.
“The increases in police numbers have slowed markedly under National, and the cuts that will be announced in May’s budget — as part of John Key’s so-called zero budget — will undermine the progress that we have been making.
“I feel really sorry for the police who have done a wonderful job. Their jobs will become much more difficult from now on, particularly in the majority of police districts that will actually lose staff.
“The demand for cuts this year are believed to be more savage than any since we have seen since the 1990s when National was last in government.”
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“Remember how the Palmerston North Wikipedia page was censored to remove references to crime because it making overseas investors and professionals shy away from moving to the town?; and of how gangs are now euphemistically called “groups” in some news reports?; and how no police statistics are kept on racially motivated crimes in New Zealand?
Well now the police in Gisborne want to restrict the information released to the media and give the people in the town the warm and fuzzies.
The question is Is ignorance bliss, or are there other motives for clamming-up about the true extent and nature of crime in Gisborne? It smacks of censorship to us and history has proved that has never been a good thing. Surely it is preferable to create a safer, low crime community rather than mislead people into thinking that it is?
Don’t the public have a right to know what is going on in their own town and the actions their public servants are taking to control that crime?
What if similar decisions were taken elsewhere in the country? (it’s already been happening in Rotorua) you can kiss goodbye to a free press in New Zealand and say hello to a propaganda mouthpiece, covering nothing but cake sales and ‘feel good’ stories.
Crime in Northland is increasing with 3.5% rise to 17,240 offences in the 12 months to 30 June 2010. The region has one of the highest crime rates in New Zealand.
According to an article in the Northern Advocate:
In the Far North policing area 6263 crimes were recorded in the 12-month period, a 2.6 per cent fall on the 6429 the previous 12 months, while in the Whangarei/Kaipara area there were 10,977 crimes, a 7.4 per cent increase on 10,223.
Only Bay of Plenty, with a rise of 10.8 per cent and Waikato with an increase of 8.5 per cent, had bigger hikes in crime than Northland…
…While the crime resolution rate – crimes solved – was down on the previous 12 months (55.1 per cent compared to 56.9 per cent) it was still the third-best clearance rate in the country, behind only Tasman (58.7 per cent solved) and Bay of Plenty (58.4 per cent).
And from another report in the paper we learn that:
There were nearly nine burglaries, one serious assault resulting in injury and two vehicles stolen every day in Northland in August.
There were 73 incidents involving the supply of drugs and 85 cases relating to drug use, up from 20 and 67 respectively for the same month last year.
There were 275 burglaries, 62 vehicles stolen and 53 serious assaults resulting in injury during August…
– 275 burglaries
– 85 drugs use
– 73 drugs supply
– 62 vehicles stolen
– 53 serious assaults resulting in injury
– 48 assaults in a public place
– 43 liquor ban breaches
– 3 police assaulted
– 1568 bail checks completed
source: New Zealand Police”
“The Land Of Misadventure” – …”Northland has a high level of unemployment, a lot of low- income people and there are criminal groups targeting tourists at popular spots. Locals get robbed as well, but the tourists offer richer pickings for the criminals.
Though locals may lose their shoes, cellphone and the small sum of cash in their pockets, tourists were known to carry a lot more money, have expensive cameras and sometimes iPods and laptops. The latest attack and robbery of the three Frenchmen was typical…” Dom Post
“Good day for Northland tourists” -A burglar with 24 previous convictions has been jailed for three years for a string of thefts from tourist vehicles in Whangarei, Northland. Hopefully the streets of Whangarei will be a bit safer for a while now and tourists will be able to regain some of their confidence in the town.
During sentencing it emerged that his thefts had affected 31 tourists from Australia, USA, France, England and Germany.