Update 9 Dec 2015 : This article generated our highest ever number of daily hits and has been viewed 17,000 times since it was published.
Crime in Palmerston North continues to be a problem for residents and police alike.
If you’re emigrating to Palmerston North be aware that it is a matter of public record that the town’s Wikipedia page has been censored to remove mention of its record for criminal activity. (“References to gang violence and crime on Palmerston North’s Wikipedia page have seen overseas investors and professionals shy away from the city…” read on)
Here’s a run-down of what the media has reported on in the last month, collated here for your information so you can make informed decisions before living, working or studying in the town.
10 August A 30 year old man took a shotgun into two Palmerston North police stations and opened fire. According to a 3News report, “police said the man walked into the reception and fired at a glass barrier protecting a staff member. She was shaken but not injured” and “close enough for her to feel very concerned about her safety”. Earlier, he’d shot out the windows at the Highbury policing station which was unmanned at the time. Witnesses say the shooter appeared “relaxed”. A nearby shopkeeper said panicked people “fled the scene”. The Police Association said front line staff are vulnerable and public access has come before security. source.
Update 11 August
The community at NZhuntingandshooting.co.nz say there’s lots of rumours of the incident being a “smoke screen” while something else was happening in the area. 30 year old Faraniko Francis Pei, 30 appeared in the Palmerston North District Court in relation to the shootings. He has been remanded in custody until September.
The incident raise questions about safety and security at New Zealand’s police stations, and it will be included in a national review of police station security. The review will also include New Plymouth’s new multi-million dollar facility which was opened in 2013. Its front-counter glass was not bullet proof.
The armed offenders squad (yes, New Zealand has plenty of these) later “swooped” on the alleged offender and made an arrest. Police, no doubt mindful of potential copycats, say the attack was “random” and there appeared to be “no motive”. However, Highbury is notorious for its crime and organised gangs.
Police say Pei was “not well known” to them and they had not had any recent dealings with him.
Faraniko ‘Niko’ Pei
Pei is believed to have been born and raised in Palmerston North (which lays to rests some of the racist comments we’ve seen about him being an immigrant). At the age of 17 he ran into some trouble. For a while Niko worked in a plastics factory. Lately, he has been involved with the RnB and Hip Hop music scene. In May he graduated from the Universal College of Learning in Palmerston North. He said “I had a bit to go through emotionally, and I could have gone another way but I found that music was a good release.” He was enrolled in a UCOL Certificate in Business Studies and dreamed of owning a record label. His aims were to “work with young people and help with crime prevention through music”. He doesn’t appear to be the sort of person to calmly shoot up police stations without reason. There is a lot more to this story than the public are being told.
End of present update.
In May, 21 year old Tyrone Gideon was shot to death in Bradford Place. A 21 year old Levin man (name suppressed) was charged with manslaughter and the unlawful possession of a firearm. Tu Whare Arapere, 18, was charged with unlawful possession of a sawn off shotgun and released on bail.
9 August There was an aggravated robbery at the Mobil service station, in which an attendant received “vicious” stab wounds to his head, face and arms. The victim was taken to Palmerston North hospital for treatment. The attack was the latest in a recent crime spree targeting businesses from Wellington to Levin.
Incidentally, that was one of at least two aggravated robberies over the weekend in which cigarettes were the target. In the other robbery a dairy (corner store) was robbed at gunpoint. Bankhaj Patel, owner of the Nancy Ave dairy in Christchurch, said this was his second violent robbery.
8 August A man whose body was found outside a block of flats in Palmerston North was identified as Samuel Peter Culling. Police say the 26 year old “died a violent death” elsewhere and his body was transported to Taieri Court units sometime on 5-6 August. The council worker who found the body is said to have been traumatised by what he saw.
7 August The public discovered escaped child sex offender Daniel Livingstone lived in Palmerson North after his release from prison under a restricted supervision order. He moved to Upper Hutt in June, where he removed the monitoring bracelet from his ankle and went awol.
Other incidents in Palmerston North in the last month include:
Shoplifting capital. One of NZ’s most travelled judges says Palmerston North has a serious shoplifting problem. Judge Josephine Bouchier said “I sit from Kaitaia to the Bluff, and (Palmerson North) has to be one of the worst areas in the country I have seen for shoplifting…it’s men, women, whoever“. Police stats show 1,236 people were arrested for theft and related offences in Manawatu from July 2014 to May 2015.
Documents released under the OIA show that police have been called out to 2,710 incidents at Palmerston North hospital from 2010-2014. Over 40 calls were for aggravated assault, more than 30 were common assaults, 30 threats to kill, or to cause GBH. In addition to calls for assaults and aggravated robberies, there were several calls for sexual offences including 4 indecent assaults and 4 rapes.
The Sportsman’s Bar on Featherston Street was held up by two masked robbers. The men forced their way in and threatened a female employee with a firearm before making off with the takings. Neighbour Brett Horsfall said he “felt sick” when police told him a sawn off shot-gun had been pointed at the woman’s face.
An elderly woman was sexually assaulted in her home in the Fitzroy Area of Church Street at 6pm. Police say the brazen attack was very distressing for the 71 year old woman. Police also reported that a man had been stabbed multiple at a party in Highbury.
Susanna Dunstan (co owner of Flip City in Palmerston north) was on Main Street when her car was hijacked by a fleeing man. As he drove away he hit a car driven by a local grandmother who had her grandchildren with her. Teiwa Riwai had escaped from police custody and tried to pull another woman from her vehicle at traffic lights on Princess Street. Police have still to find the 29 year old offender who is wanted on serious assault charges..
32 year old Daniel Thomas Brown appeared in court after being found with a M16 military-style assault rifle. The weapon was stolen from a NZ Defence Force base – Linton Military Camp. Six weapons have gone missing from defence force bases in the last 5 years.
Raids on parked cars in central Palmerston North have reached record highs. There were 206 thefts from cars in the month to July 27, compared to 133 in June and 96 in May. Inspector Brett Calkin said there were “very active” offenders operating in the city.
The “escape” of two children from The Cubby House play centre. The two tots managed to open a fire door and get across the four lane Pioneer Highway. Police are investigating. The event raises questions about the security and supervision of children in play centres.
Jessica Aimee Davidson (23) pleaded guilty to pepper spraying a security guard at The Plaza shopping mall when he approached her on suspicion of shoplifting.
A man pleaded guilty to injuring with intent to inure after he bit clean through his partner’s cheek because she smoked in their bathroom. Shane Francis Hikkaka had previously been convicted for assaulting the woman in 2013, and for previous assaults against partners. He’s on bail until his sentence in September.
Gym users’ cars are being are being targeted in the latest spate of thefts from cars, mostly from 6-7 am. Clients from several gyms around the town have been hit.
Kingi Hone Wharepapa was arrested in the grounds of Awatapu College after a police chase. He was later taken into custody for breaching a home detention order; and for driving and theft charges.
June Marie Mansfield, 47, pleaded guilty to allowing her Vogel Street home to be used by people importing methamphetamine. She was arrested as part of Operation Hydrabad and will be sentenced in October.
A 27 year old woman has pleaded not guilty of the manslaughter of a “high needs teen” at a Palmerston North care centre. 15 year old Nathan Booker died after he was found submerged in a bath at the Woburn Family Support Centre. The woman, who is pregnant, has name suppression until her child is born.
Palmerston North police advised people to keep away from the Waitaere Beach Road area after shots were fired at a property there. The AOS and Levin police were called to the location and “cars were coming and going from the scene”.
Tawhirimatea Adrian Joseph Riwai appeared in court charged with GBH for an assault at a Nottingham Avenue property. He’d been celebrating the release of his partner’s brother from prison when he is alleged to have hit Andrew Rowe in the face with a hammer. Rowe was driven to hospital in a car but he awoke to find his partner being attacked on the side of the road. He was hit on the head when he went to her rescue. He was left with multiple head fractures and required facial reconstruction surgery.
Vandals on a rampage caused tens of thousands of dollars of damage in the town’s industrial area on an overnight smashing spree. Chief Exec of C B Norwood – Tim Myers – says he’s “sick to death” and has had enough. This was the third time his windows had been smashed this year, the present repairs are likely to reach $30,000 which will come out of the company’s community projects fund. Other companies have also been affected including Piggy’s Lunchbar and Takeway where the window had been smashed with better bottles, previously the front door had been kicked in.
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