Ranginui Rahi, 18 and Mark Hati, 16 the two youths who pleaded guilty to the rape of a 22 year old Japanese tourist in Opotiki, in the eastern Bay of Plenty, have both been sentenced to 9 years in prison for rape and aggravated buglary.
The two armed offenders broke into the Ford Street house in August and attacked the woman whilst her host family sat in another room watching television.
Mark Hati was said to have aspirations to become a patched member of the Mongrel Mob and expects to be accepted once his sentence has been served. Of course, the Mob may not exist by then which will be no sad loss for New Zealand, or the long suffering residents of Opotiki.
In June an Opotiki man was charged with the raped of a male French hitchhiker at gunpoint.
Opotiki also made the headlines in December of last year when two teenage girls were charged with the murder of elderly man John Rowe, a retired school teacher. His badly beaten body was found at his home in November 2008. Whilst reporting on Mr Rowe’s murder the NZ Herald described Opotiki as follows:
“With wide streets and air of lost prosperity, Opotiki is not unlike dozens of small towns across New Zealand.
Fifty years ago it was booming, thanks to potatoes, wheat, maize and cattle. But as factories relocated or closed, residents moved out, with many of the rich and elderly heading to the upmarket Woodlands area several kilometres away.Their departure and the economic downturn led to an increase in unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, and gang activity.
Now much of Opotiki’s criminal activity is controlled by Mongrel Mob and Black Power chapters, with the innocent caught in the middle. “The Mongrel Mob own this patch,” said Gibson, an Opotiki resident of 48 years. “Black Power’s patch is on the other side of town.”
Police have refused to speculate on whether the youths accused of killing Rowe have gang links, but many locals are less circumspect. One of Rowe’s neighbours, Peter Collier, said there were drug and alcohol problems among the town’s youth and the gangs are “battering each other”, leaving residents “jumpy”.
Another, who asked not to be named, said she always believed the town’s next murder victim would be killed in a gang fight, not a former maths teacher described by friends as a “gentleman“.
Rowe came to New Zealand from the UK where he served in the Navy. His wife, Phyllis, died in 1991 but his love affair with classical music continued.”
We wonder if the Japanese woman who was raped in her host’s home realised the background to Opotiki and if she was made fully aware of the possible risks of staying there.
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