"Is Increased Violence Damaging NZ’s Image Abroad?"

That’s the onging question repeatedly asked of readers of the on-line edition of NZ Herald since January 2008 and there are over 60 pages of replies.

The questions received another airing following the attack during the weekend on French rugby player Mathieu Bastareaud. The responses make for interesting reading, here’s a fairly typical selection of recent comments suggesting that all is not well:

Sonny j (Glen Eden)What image? It’s “New Zealander” culture. This is what they do. This isn’t an isolated incident. Get off the grass. This is what these certain abject “New Zealanders” do to foriegners. Particularly to “coloured” ones like Bastareaud. And it’s particularly prevalent in the south Island.

The French team were booed throughout the game by most of the crowd in Dunedin the week before the attack on Bastareaud. They were also bottled by spectators as they left the field. How’s that for antisocial “New Zealander” behaviour?

I bet the French team can’t wait to leave this bizarre, poxy little country. And who could blame them?

Aroha mai French brothers. Very sorry.”

lisa Smellie (Wellington City) “Yes I agree with most of you regarding the violence that we as a society either put up with or ignore. “But but we are one of the most safest countries in the world.” I here you say.

Well wake up New Zealand not anymore. We are so Bloody complacent regarding any sort of violence or criminal behaviour. This is not the first and only violent criminal incident that has occured on a person from overseas. GOD what an embarrassment. On this occassion I am ashamed to be a New Zealander.”

Karlos (Kaiapoi)I remember going out after the 2008 Super 14 final in Christchurch and feeling almost ashamed to call myself a local. There were huge ‘gangs’ of totally drunk teenagers (maybe early 20’s) going around intentionally trying to start fights with anyone and everyone. And the Crusaders won that game, imagine if they had lost!

We got talking to some people from Sydney and they were totally blown away by how bad it was. They were planning a bit of a pub crawl around the city but decided it was safer to just find one pub and stay there.

I think our binge drinking culture (and maybe P) has a lot to do with these random violent attacks.”

Dave (Waitakere City) “Yet again – NZs lack of discipline, poor upbringing, and a “soft-on-crime” attitude prevails. Quite simply – we tolerate this sort of behaviour.”

Jonman (Gonville) “And to think that NZ was rated “the most peaceful country on earth” less than a month ago!”

Wayne Lo (Hong Kong) The fact is New Zealand, for a developed nation, is a dangerous place for tourists, and is far more dangerous than many European and Asian nations. Here are just some of the crimes which have gone through the courts in the past 18 to 24 months.

The include among others the murders of Scottish and Korean tourists, the sexual assault of English tourists, the rape of Dutch tourists, assaults on Irish and English tourists for their accents. This in a nation of just four million people.

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rossnz (Hamilton)Every time something like this happens in New Zealand the authorities wrongly say that it is an isolated incident. How many thousand isolated incidents does it take for something to be done.

The police wimpish advice is to warn law abiding people not to walk the streets alone. They have surrendered their role of keeping the streets safe. If this latest thuggery is ever brought to court some clever-dick lawyer will get reduced sentences because it was the booze and not the individuals who cowardly beat up a lone individual. Four against one, that takes some bravery. We sure know how to breed them. Isolated incident is balderdash.”

Kingi (Auckland) “Mathieu Bastareaud’s assault was a racial attack. He broke a golden rule for international sports teams. Do not venture out by yourself in a foreign country.

The thugs that attacked him probably have not got a criminal record and this is the danger New Zealander’s are under.

Get well soon Mathieu and see you at the World Cup.”

More here: Reader responses