Update 28 Dec 2011 – A 16 year old Turangi youth has been charged in relation to this matter, more here
We’re shocked to hear that yet another tourist has been seriously assaulted in a campervan in New Zealand. What makes this particular crime all the more disgusting is that this time it was a five year old child that was severely beaten and subjected to a vicious sexual attack after being struck unconscious. A heinous and contemptible crime perpetrated against a defenseless child.
One of the police officers working on the case said it was the worst he’d seen
“It is the worst attack I have seen in my 28 years of police service.
“It was a vicious attack on a defenceless five-year-old girl. You don’t get too many offences which are too much worse than this.”
Our thoughts are with the girl’s family, who are said to be on dream holiday of a lifetime from Belgium, and we wish her a full and speedy recovery from her ordeal.
The British press is bound to draw comparisons to the abduction of 3 year old Madeleine McCann, whose parents left her sleeping in a holiday resort in Portugal.
The family arrived at Club Habitat on Ohuanga Road, Turangi yesterday (street view below) and the assault took place last night between 10.10 and 10.40 whilst the child’s parents were just metres away an amenity block. The girl and her three year old brother were sleeping in the van at the time.
Police are not releasing details of the family or their country of origin but they did tell reporters that there had been a burglary at the camp the previous night.
The attack took place just yards opposite the local police station and less than 6 kilometres from the low security Tongariro-Rangipo Prison, one of three correctional facilities in the Waikato.
Posters on the Trade Me forum say that law and order in the township suffers because of a level of criminality among supporters who move there to be close to prisoners. They also say that ‘undesirables’ lodge in low cost accommodation and campsites in the area after their release, making the area unsuitable for tourists.
As of September 2011 26 offenders have escaped from the Tongariro Rangipo Prison in the last 10 years.
Among them was Lex Miller, 48, an inmate with a history of serious violence escaped from the prison in , in August 2011. An off -duty police officer eventually spotted him at a camp ground in Gisborne and he was taken back in to custody.
In 2008 there were other escapes – Murderer Stuart Harrison and robber and sex offender Sumit Narayan and in 2009 Christopher Thomas Watkins walked out of the prison whilst serving a life sentence for murder.
Belgian Travel Advice:
The Kingdom of Belgium Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation presently gives the following general advice to citizens travelling to New Zealand. It will be interesting to see if this is revised following the child’s attack:
“In general, New Zealand is a safe country without crime or flagrant threat of terrorism. Only the future will tell how long the location of New Zealand will offer some safety guarantee.
It is advisable for visitors who travel to New Zealand to use their common sense to be cautious and vigilant, and to follow the advice and instructions of the New Zealand authorities.”
There is no reciprocal healthcare agreement between New Zealand and Belgium, therefore we hope that the child’s family has adequate travel insurance or that ACC will cover her medical bills in full, it would be a shame if the NZ public’s generous donations to the family were eaten up by expenses.
Street view of Club Habitat
Unfortunately, even though New Zealand has a safe image abroad there have been a significant number of assaults, rapes and robberies of campervan tourists in the last few years. Sadly it was just a matter of time until a child was attacked.
Crime against foreign nationals in New Zealand is something that we write about regularly, take a look at our blogs tagged campervan to see numerous other incidents. Sadly it seems that the message still isn’t getting out about New Zealand and its high crime rates and violence against tourists.
High Rates of Child Maltreatment Deaths
Many tourists fail to realise that far from being safe for children, New Zealand is ranked joint third in the world by UNICEF for the highest number of child maltreatment deaths (1.2 per 100,000 children) only the US and Mexico have more See our Facts and stats pages (above) for more information.
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has issued the following advice for travellers to New Zealand. Perhaps it is time for them to be more specific about the types of violent crime and follow the lead of the Dutch government after a honeymooning couples were raped at a campsites in Tuatapere and Haruru Falls, so that people may be better informed.
Safety and Security – Crime
Street crimes occur in major urban areas. Reports of thefts from unattended vehicles, especially hire cars/camper vans in major tourist areas (e.g. the Coromandel Peninsula, Rotorua and Queenstown) have increased. There has also been an increase in the number of thefts from hotel rooms in some tourist areas. Do not leave possessions in unattended vehicles even if out of sight in a locked boot. Do not leave valuables in hotel rooms, but use safe boxes when available. Keep passports, travellers’ cheques, credit cards, etc separate. See our Victims of Crime Abroad page.
A NZ police media statement gave the following information about the Club Habitat assault
Child seriously assaulted at holiday park
Thursday, 22 December 2011, 1:19 pm
Press Release: New Zealand Police
Child seriously assaulted at holiday park
A five-year-old girl is in a serious but stable condition in hospital after being attacked last night at a holiday park in Turangi.
The girl is currently touring New Zealand with her parents and brother in a hired ute and caravan. Yesterday afternoon they arrived in Turangi and booked into Club Habitat on Ohuanga Road, Turangi.
Last night the girl’s father was in the amenity block just metres away from the caravan. At approximately 10.10pm the mother also walked across to the amenity block leaving the two children asleep inside the caravan.
When she returned at approximately 10.40pm she found the caravan door locked and through the window saw a man inside.
She ran to get her husband and when they returned the caravan door was open, the man was gone and their daughter was lying seriously injured in her bed.
She has serious injuries mainly to her head and face and has undergone surgery at Waikato Hospital.
An investigation is underway, headed by Detective Inspector Mark Loper. ESR are in Turangi carrying out a full scene examination. Officers from Waikato are currently assisting with interviews with the parents.
Detective Inspector Mark Loper said: “This is a vicious attack, and the fact that it is on a five-year-old tourist just days before Christmas makes it all the more appalling. It is vital that anyone who has the smallest piece of information that might help this investigation comes forward as soon as possible.”
The family are visiting from Europe. Police will not be more specific at this stage as the family need some time to notify relatives back home before any further detail is released.
Some other Turangi Crime Stories
Dairy owners taking up arms – Sanjay and Monika Malaviya arm themselves after 2 armed hold ups and five burglaries
June Sowerby disappeared walking home Christmas Eve 2003 – presumed murdered, body never found. Staying at Turangi Lodge
Hunter who killed camping teacher to get early release – man hunting illegally at night, shot schoolteacher in head at campsite. He is released after serving just 11 months in prison.
Police seek thugs – elderly man beaten by burglars a few weeks ago
Man accused of attacking Turangi policeman in court -Motorist punched police officer unconscious in an assault on SH 1
Smuggler jail guard ‘felt sorry’ for inmate – prison warder smuggled drugs in to Tongariro-Rangipo Prison
Other Tourist Attacks in New Zealand
You may also be interested in
A group of students that were beaten and robbed whilst on a treasure hunt at the Hundertwasser toilets in Kawakawa, Northland
A series of random, unprovoked attacks in Queenstown
Previous robbery of British tourists at Kerosene Creek
Tourists robbed at Kerosene Creek
Three French tourists beaten and robbed in their campervan in Mangamuka, Northland – police have yet to resolve this crime
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
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.
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.”
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.