American Tourists Beaten in Paihia, Names Released: Scott Kelleher and Jacob Ulgenes

Jacob Ulgenes in happier times

Jacob Ulgenes in happier times.

Updated 6 Nov 2015

Waitangi man Daniel Rama Tito, age 22,  was sentenced to a mere 6 months home detention for the attack on Scott and Jacob. The judge who handed down the ‘sentence’ told the court Tito’s

“community, and his country, relied on tourism. His actions risked changing Paihia’s image from a clean, green destination to a place where “you’ll get your head bashed in by some Maori boys full of beer and looking for a fight”.

Light sentencing now gives other thugs like Tito carte blanche to do as they will. We’re advising tourists to stay away from the ‘Miami of Northland’ until crimes against tourists are stopped.

As we predicted on 5 January, the American tourists who were brutally assaulted in Paihia have finally had their names released, but only so they could appear alongside the obligatory “we still like NZ”  press statement (now almost mandatory for any international visitor injured in New Zealand). source

Scott Kelleher and Jacob Ulgenes, both 23 years old, were room mates at Montana Tech and had recently graduated with engineering degrees. They’d been in New Zealand for 48 hours when they were beaten up at a backpacker hostel in New Zealand’s ‘lawless north.’

Our thoughts are with the two men, especially Jacob Ulgenes who is likely to carry the memory of his New Zealand trip for years to come. We wish them a safe onward trip from New Zealand and send our regards to their families back in the US.

New Zealand is acutely aware of its reputation abroad, one that is has turned sour in recent years, and with good reason. It now has a sold reputation for bashing and robbing tourists, some of whom have died as a result. Read posts tagged tourist attacks for details.

The Northern Advocate has published details of the assault, saying the men were with a group in the courtyard of the Bay Adventurer Backpackers when a car pulled up.

A German woman in the group made a joke about the brightness of the car’s lights, and a woman in the car became aggressive.

When Mr Ulgenes tried to calm her he was punched in the jaw by a man, one of two people who appeared to arrive in the car with the woman.

Mr Kelleher was knocked unconscious, and had stitches in a cut lip. Police and an ambulance were called. After spending the night at the Bay of Islands Hospital, Mr Ulgenes and Mr Kelleher drove to Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital.

Five titanium plates and 14 screws now hold together Mr Ulgenes’ jaw. He was discharged from hospital yesterday…They leave for Australia on Friday.

Police have yet to make an arrest.

Some of our other articles about incidents involving American tourists include

Te Anau troubled by tourist attacks

One of the visitors attacked in the latest incident was on holiday from the United States and there was a growing concern about how it could affect the town’s reputation as a destination….read on

US soliders robbed in Kaikoura –

Yes that’s right – Kaikoura, not Kandahar.

Kaikoura is a popular seaside town in New Zealand and a setting-off point for whale watching trips. But Kaikoura’s rep has been taking a hit recently, what with visitors getting badly beaten up by mobs on the streets and seals being clubbed to death.

Now we hear that two American soldiers, Eli and Tonia Gerhard, lost a large amount of property when their rental car was robbed. Following the theft police used a search warrant to enter a local address and “recovered a “substantial amount” of property” according to the Kaikoura on

US Rowing Team Member Robbed, World Rowing Championships 2010

The United States rowing team has just had an unpleasant brush with New Zealand’s spiralling crime problem.

On Saturday a member of the team had a number of personal items stolen after the World Rowing Championships at Lake Karapiro.

A Police press released managed to turn what could’ve been a PR clunker into a  ‘gold medal’ news story for the police (and New Zealand) when they apprehended the young burglars responsible and returned the stolen goods to the rower just minutes before he left the country…read on