Two reminders this festive season that poverty in New Zealand continues to make it a very unsafe tourism destination.
A young German couple, sleeping in their tent in the small town of Whakatane (renowned for its gang activity) were beaten severely and robbed in the early hours of Boxing Day.
From news reports it sounds as if the young German woman suffered the worse injuries. She had a broken arm and large gashes on her face. Witnesses reported seeing her blonde hair stained with blood. Her male companion was cut, badly bruised and lost all his front teeth in the senseless attack. Read German tourists have nightmare injuries on the news site Stuff.co.nz. Later reports said that the couple would have to endure a lifetime of corrective treatment, most of which will not be funded by their travel insurance policies.
This was posted to the Whakatane Beacon’s Facebook page
Police are refusing to say what weapons were used by the four males and a female who assaulted the German tourists. Locals are saying the gang used baseballs bats. One youth (17) was from Whakatane and the others from neighbouring Opotiki, which is also dogged by violent crime and Mongrel Mob gang activity (see Gang prospects jailed for the rape of Japanese tourist in Opotiki – the offenders were aged 16 and 18, also in this backwater town was the rape of a male French tourist and the murder of a retired school teacher)
The assault is as brutal as the savage sexual assault of a five year old girl at a campsite in Turangi (read Belgian Girl’s Rapist Gets 10 Years – Parents in Rival Gangs) and the death of an elderly Australian tourist who was stabbed in the head at Waihi Beach in January of this year and the French tourists who were beaten in a campervan attack in Mangamuka, Northland. Then there was the German tourist who was left with a broken jaw when he was mugged in Napier. Those are just a handful of the hundreds of attacks, robberies and beatings that take place.
Police used tracker dogs to arrest four people including three males aged 14,17 and 18 and a female aged 15 . They’re still looking for a fifth person. Meanwhile the German couple were admitted to hospital for treatment and are likely to remain there for a couple of days, we wish them a speedy recovery from their horrific ordeal and a safe onward journey. If they’d like to contact us, or if anyone knows the names of their attackers please leave a message here.
Failed communities and hatred of freedom campers – a tragic combination
In later reports police were extremely keen to stress the local community had rallied around to show support to the couple. Quite honestly what civilised country wouldn’t, its the least they could do. But will that stop it from happening again?
We’d like to know where the community support was when the German tourists were attacked. Where were they when German tourists Juliane Quanzt and Nina Pielstick were beaten and robbed in Papakura? they stood and watched.
Michael Laws, ex Mayor of Wanagnui in 2005, once famously said that “many small towns in New Zealand are failed communities“. How right he was.
This is the country where community leaders called for freedom campers to be shot. How bizarre it is that New Zealanders should be incited to attack the very people they invite to spend money there?
Tourism NZ says stay in controlled camping grounds
Responding to the attack in Whakatane, Chris Roberts – a spokesman for Tourism NZ displayed a flash of his country’s victim blaming culture. How quickly Kiwis forget that tourists get attacked in their campsites too – The Turangi child rape and beating was one of many incidents. In a callous statement that failed to condemn the attackers he said
the attack sounded like a case of “wrong place, wrong time”. “It’s always unfortunate to hear of such incidents,” he said.
“New Zealand, like any destination in the world, does unfortunately see crime against tourists as well as locals.”
Roberts warned against freedom camping and said Tourism NZ’s advice was for visitors to stay in controlled camping grounds.” source
At the other end of the country in Invercargill a couple of “European visitors” lost most of their possessions when their car was broken in to. Among other items was a laptop with a German keyboard, so its not hard to surmise that the visitors may have also been from Germany.
Last year the French, German and Argentine Embassies all warned about theft in New Zealand. It appeared that the problem of thefts from tourists may be more prevalent than is reported by the media in New Zealand. The German embassy alone says it gets 1-2 people a week reporting passports stolen from vehicles. More here.
With regards to the Invercargill theft,
Senior Sergeant Maggie Windle, of Invercargill, said the burglars smashed a window and a swag of distinctly European items was stolen.
These included a Deuter and Tatonka backpack, Hilleberg tent, Haglof jacket and a Toshiba laptop with German keyboard…source
European and Asian tourists are often perceived as wealthy in New Zealand, which has an appalling level of poverty for an OECD country. Crime is rampant but under-reported. Tourist attacks are depressingly common, although the stories seldom filter out to the outside world unless names are released.
The news about the Whakatane attack was discussed on the forum at Trademe.co.nz. Screen shot below. It includes a request for tourists to be warned about the dangers of this “fair land.” That’s something that E2NZ.org has been calling for for years, especially with regards to freedom camping and camper-vanning.
Thinking about spending a few grand on a long distance trip to New Zealand? We say go somewhere safer until it sorts out its appalling crime problem. What next, tourist police or more platitudes for the endless stream of victims?
You may also be interested in
- German Tourist Seriously Injured in Napier Mugging, French Tourists Pistol Whipped, Sex Assualt in Motel Results in Community Service (e2nz.org)
- German tourists attacked in Whakatane (nzherald.co.nz)
- Woman charged with Whakatane stabbing (nzherald.co.nz)
- Boy’s body found in Whakatane River (radionz.co.nz)
- Invercargill man indecently exposes himself to teens (nzherald.co.nz)
- New false alarm for Whakatane’s tsunami system (nzherald.co.nz)