Earlier today we tweeted about the unfortunate situation that traveler Cedric Rault-Verpre found himself in for damaging an old road sign.
Cedric, a seasoned world traveler and surfer of couches, had been holed up for four days in the remote town of Punakaiki trying to hitch a ride out of the township without success. Rault-Verpre said he had spent four days on the side the road at Punakaiki and no one had bothered to even offer him water.
The Local People finally got fed up with him hanging around their streets and reported him to police for allegedly damaging a road sign by throwing rocks at it. He soon found himself in court faced with two choices:
Pay $3,000 for a new road sign, or stay in NZ for 6 months. Mr Rault-Verpre had already paid that amount in tax on his earnings while in NZ and is effectively penniless…
Rault-Verpre arrived at the courthouse with a backpack, carrying a large black rubbish sack and wearing jeans and a jumper.
Outside court, Rault-Verpre said New Zealand should be renamed “Nazi Zealand”.
Asked how long he had been in this country he replied, “too long – way too long – and I’ve been to 80 countries”.
He said he had been to 80 countries. “I’ve been to the worst part of the US. The worst American is not an a [deleted] like a New Zealander. In Europe we have judges, we don’t charge people and say you pay or you stay six months in New Zealand.”
Adding insult to injury his passport was seized while he made up his mind.
Duty lawyer Marcus Zintl, who he initially refused to speak to, said Rault-Verpre disputed the amount of reparation. “He is being charged for a new sign when they were already old and damaged,” he said.
What exactly does a $3,000 dollar road sign look like? Here are some from around the river where the damage was alleged to have occurred.
For safety reasons, New Zealand Police does not recommend people hitchhike or accept rides from people they don’t know. We however recommend that people just go somewhere else.
This is Mr Rault-Verpre’s Couch Surfing Profile
Mr Rault-Verpre’s story has ‘gone global’. According to the NZ Herald, people from China, Italy, Lesotho, Canada and Germany have been in touch with friends and family in Punakaiki saying they had read the story in their papers. “A version of the story was the most popular item on the Guardian UK’s website (which has an estimated readership of over 40 million) yesterday and today.” The news site then proceeded to publish derogatory comments about Mr Rault-Vepre. This is part of the almost obligatory character assination of anyone who casts a bad light on New Zealand.
The incident was also picked up on by LaudaFinem.com who made this tweet about it. Here is is, along with the response from E2NZ: