Category Archives: Crime

Rainy Day reading —The Spinoff : Ministry of Transport fraud case

The ever-deepening storm centred on the Joanne Harrison fraud case just became a hurricane. Yesterday’s State Services Commission investigation report is likely to trigger a new chain of events that could extend well beyond embattled Auditor General Martin Matthews, writes Peter Newport

### thespinoff.co.nz July 21, 2017
Politics
The Ministry of Transport fraud case: Why the rot goes deeper than Joanne Harrison
By Peter Newport | Contributing writer
The State Services Commission investigation, published yesterday, makes one thing very clear: Joanne Harrison influenced the exit of four fellow Ministry of Transport employees who tried to tell their bosses that she was a fraudster. She managed to hire friends and steal over $700,000 from the ministry despite numerous staff attempting to call attention to her actions. This all happened while she was reporting directly to then-chief executive Martin Matthews, who is now our auditor general – albeit on temporary leave. The Commission has now apologised and is offering compensation to those former staff members. Its report also highlights many other issues at the Ministry, arguing that the 17-year-old legislation that covers whistleblowers needs to be changed and improved.

A second investigation, into whether Martin Matthews is a suitable person to continue as auditor general, is due from Sir Maarten Wevers in the coming days. Matthews is currently constructing his response to the unpublished, but complete, Wevers investigation. He has been given until the end of this week to complete it.

The Harrison case has some similar dynamics to the Todd Barclay drama. It’s become less about the initial problem than how it was handled. Who told the truth and who tried to obscure or even bury the truth. The difference with the Harrison situation is that she is now in jail and the truth is coming out – fast.

The Spinoff has been looking at exactly who did what, and when. That job has been made easier by a new, recent MOT whistle-blower who has produced and provided to us a detailed timeline noting all the evidence, which we publish here, utilising material released by the Ministry of Transport and available to view here. The same whistle-blower has shared a bizarre insight into Martin Matthews’ statements during his time at the Ministry of Transport.

But first, a quick tour of the jigsaw puzzle of documents that reveal a picture of Martin Matthews being given not clues, or hints, but what appear to be multiple solid facts that highlighted Joanne Harrison as a Grade A con artist and thief.
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Founded in 2014, The Spinoff is New Zealand’s fastest growing media startup, amassing a monthly New Zealand audience of over 500,000 in less than three years.
We’ve assembled a team of agenda-setting journalists and critics, working across text, audio and video to create a true 21st century media brand. In just two years, The Spinoff has been nominated for 24 Canon awards, winning six. Our growth has been driven by a creative editorial style and innovative business model, emphasising long-term relationships with like-minded brands and a close connection with a young, educated and urban audience. Duncan Greive won both NZ Marketing Magazine‘s Editor of the Year as well as the People’s Choice title for Editor and Media Visionary in their media issue, July 2017. The Spinoff also claimed the title for Digital Media Brand of the Year as well as the People’s Choice title for the same award.

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Comment received from russandbev
2017/07/21 at 10:52 am

The recent revelations about what happened to the whistleblowers in the Ministry of Transport have, I’d suggest, application in Dunedin. Think of the parallels. In the MoT case a manipulative person with a barely-hidden track record of fraud and vindictiveness as well as a well developed sense of entitlement goes about systematically defrauding a government department of close on 3/4 million dollars. Not through some incredibly complex fraud, but one of simply creating business that didn’t exist and creating invoices from them for services that were never provided. Not exactly something that would take a lot to investigate.

Whistleblowers blow the alarm whistles to their managers and nothing happens and the further up the chain the questions were asked, the more dismissive the denials became. Meantime the fraudster moves against the whistleblowers. The Head of the Ministry moves on to even more wondrous things as Auditor General (is that ironic or is that ironic?) and the Minister dismisses all suggestions of wrong-doing. Even the Speaker of the House who employs the Auditor General doesn’t want to get involved.

Now found that the whistleblowers were entirely vindicated by their concerns and they get private and public apologies and a confidential settlement to, in part, recompense them for their treatment by both a fraudster and by management and governance failures. The Protected Disclosures Act [2000] is supposed to protect whistleblowers in BOTH public and private sectors.

Now, I don’t think anyone is suggesting fraud in the case of Aurora/Delta and that should be made plain. However look at the track record of these companies. A fearful record of stupid property speculation costing many many millions which is still going on thanks to Yaldhurst. A willingness to go along with borrowing to supply dividends to the DCHL and the DCC. Decades of ignoring maintenance on the Aurora network closely linked to the governance requirements to minimise costs, maximise profits and supply dividends to build vanity projects by the owners and now the spendup of northwards of 3/4 billion dollars on urgent maintenance bought about these years of neglect.

And then think of the years and layers of denials that these things happened over. When Richard Healey found he could no longer keep working in the company because of all that was being hidden, he gets vilified by EVERYONE that should have listened. EVERYONE is in denial including his past Managers who continued to receive their grossly inflated salaries and those in governance – many of whom refused to even sit down with him and discuss his concerns.

Am I the only one to see the parallels in how a Ministry or a City company deals with whistleblowers? I wonder if we will ever see similar end results in the case of Richard Healey?

{Link added. -Eds}

Reply from Elizabeth
2017/07/21 at 1:02 pm

Not involving Aurora:

Charges of Constructive Fraud have been brought, by joinder, against Delta Utility Services Ltd in the Christchurch High Court by the caveators (original property owners of the Noble Subdivision) at Yaldhurst. The case proceeds.

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Transparency International New Zealand
http://www.transparency.org.nz/

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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

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Vogel Street parking on a quiet Sunday afternoon #petroltheft

A colleague and I decided to go to the ‘street’ kitchen on Sunday afternoon. We parked in front of the back doors to Sammy’s. At the kitchen we ordered tea and coffee and talked for a couple of hours. In that time someone unseen by us siphoned off about half of what remained in the petrol tank of my companion’s specially modified vehicle. Whoever did the job didn’t put the fuel flap down carefully before exit.

Naturally, some dusting to do…. was it an opportunistic one-off, or ?

We shall see. A few weird things going on lately. The driver and owner of the vehicle has only had it for about 6 days; they’re monitoring fuel consumption as well as other things in their daily life quite carefully just now.

Then too, there’s someone acting weirdly about town, who has an expired licence (not talking driver’s licence). Check this out at the Justice website. They coffee at Marbecks (Wall Street mall) despite protestations they do not.

Just putting it out there.

Small world.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

5 Comments

Filed under Business, Corruption, Crime, Democracy, Dunedin, Events, Fun, Hot air, Other, People, Perversion, Police, Public interest

thoughts and faces #loosematerial

My father [never a follower of the FedUp Farmers, as he deemed them; always the campaigner for removal of farm subsidies, to enhance production and market competition] had ‘stock’ phrases with which to judge the faces of female adversaries, those with little brain or spine in politics, pretenders. One adept phrase that sticks in my mind is “like a horse eating thistles” —so I look on the following with my tinted lens, and laugh, rurally (ruefully). No one target.

On 19 May @StuFleming tweeted: “Spend $200k, revenue projections of $2.4M to others, 10% margin yields say $240k net”
[minus ODT news photo of face]

[DUD ‘money hype’ typically depends on false multipliers, anechoic silences, and arrogant self-belief —this (yes) bleak statement applies across a broad range of proposed deals and associated marketing detritus in the city, especially to events, conferences, sport, hospitality and accommodation, and even the re-use (Not conservation) of truly rare and precious instances of historic heritage] Here’s to all the fricking horses out there, including hypocritical colleagues and friends with blinkers like demo balls prepared to squeeze the last dollar and pass us to Hell. Anyway, back to “the business”…. cargo cult tourism. The wider effects of tourism are like those of dairying. Too many eggs in one basket and everybody (I mean, everybody) ends up doing it badly —killing Our Place for generations. Greed, like endorphins, like a running addiction, binds them up. They think they’re bright, they think they’re enablers (read risk takers/investors centred on their own gains only), they think they’re entrepreneurs, better than others (but because I for one will tell you things you don’t want to hear, you’ll say “I’ll ring you tomorrow”, that silence again) but they’re just funneled, tunneled sheepybaas – doing it wrong. Like cows, deer, Chinese gooseberries (Kiwifruit!), wines, stadiums….. or ‘getting a room’ behind the poorly remembered, heavily made-up, Disney’d facade of our city and nationhood. The worst kind didn’t, or didn’t bother to, ‘grow up’ here. They get desperate, create mess, import other yes men. Ring you like nothing happened, their exploits —not to ask deeply madly who and how you really are.

### ODT Online Sat, 20 May 2017
Trenz prompts high aspirations
By David Loughrey
Next year’s Trenz conference in Dunedin is set to cost ratepayers $200,000, but the long-term pay-off should run well into the millions.
The Dunedin City Council will next week be given an idea of the costs to the city of hosting the conference from May 7 to 10, and also the estimated benefits. The city learned last week it would host the tourism industry event next year, bringing up to 1200 international travel and tourism buyers, media and New Zealand tourism operators to Dunedin. It will be the first time the event, run by Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA), has come to Dunedin and the first time it has been hosted outside Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch or Queenstown since it began in the 1960s. Trenz is an opportunity for New Zealand tourism operators to sell their product to buyers, effectively overseas travel agents who put together itineraries for overseas tourists. Attracting more than 350 buyers to experience the tourism products on offer here is considered a huge coup. On average, each buyer sends 4000 visitors a year to New Zealand, totalling 1.5 million. It comes as figures show New Zealand’s tourism market is expected to continue to grow strongly, topping $15 billion by 2023. Tourism contributes more than $690 million to Dunedin’s economy every year.
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Meanwhile, although we (‘our stock’ NZ) and the UK farm gate look pretty much the same……

‘Herdwick Shepherd’ aka James Rebanks (@herdyshepherd1) farms Herdwick sheep in the English Lake District. Author of bestselling memoir, The Shepherd’s Life:

### ODT Online Saturday, 20 May 2017
OE to Britain set to get tougher
Prime Minister Bill English says the Conservative Party’s new plans to clamp down on immigration will sting New Zealanders wanting to live in the United Kingdom, including on the traditional OE, but there is little he can do until Brexit is completed. The British party’s election manifesto includes plans to drastically cut net migration from 273,000 to less than 100,000 by targeting students and those on working visas. It proposes cutting the number of skilled migrants to get visas, higher levies on employers who take on migrant workers and tripling the National Health Service immigration health surcharge from £200 to £600 ($NZ380 to $NZ1130) a year for those in the UK on visas of more than six months and 450 for international students. That surcharge increase will also affect those on the traditional OE, although there is no mention of scrapping the two-year youth mobility visa which allows young New Zealanders to get a two-year visa to work and travel in the United Kingdom. Mr English said the changes would affect those on their OE but they would have to grin and bear it until Brexit was completed. NZME.
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Super City mayor Phil Goff has a plan for getting money from tourists – it bears some similarity to that of the Mongrel Mob……

### NZ Herald Thu, 18 May 2017
Winston Aldworth: Seeking the smart money
OPINION What do Phil Goff and the Mongrel Mob have in common? As hundreds of travel industry figures from all around the world gathered in Auckland for last week’s Trenz conference, one of the many topics up for discussion was the Auckland mayor’s enthusiasm for a hotel bed tax on visitors to the city. Meanwhile, up north at Ahipara on Ninety Mile Beach, three German tourists were approached by two local Mongrel Mob members who told them that they were on Maori land, and had to pay koha. They also told the tourists they’d be taking a few of their cigarettes. A tobacco tax, if you will. Perhaps their plan for putting heavy taxes on visitors was inspired by the Super City mayor. Goff’s bed tax is about as blunt an instrument as the Mob’s shakedown. “Look there’s a foreigner! Let’s get a couple of bucks off them.” The airport tax introduced by John Key a year ago is equally clumsy. It’s a travesty that these tariffs are the best we can come up with for making money out of tourism. Yes, other countries put dull levies on visitor arrivals, but that’s no reason to follow suit. We New Zealanders pride ourselves on being innovators, so let’s find innovative ways to get more money out of the tourism sector. Both Goff and Key were ministers in governments that did everything they could to remove tariffs from the dairy trade. Today, the best and brightest marketing wallahs of Goff’s inner circle are putting forward a plan no more sophisticated than one devised by two Mongrel Mob members standing on a Northland beach. I’m not against making money out of tourists — quite the opposite, in fact. I think it’s terrific that our country can be boosted by an industry that encourages us to care for our environment, celebrate the things that make our culture unique and spreads revenue quickly and efficiently to the regions. But how about instead of putting a dumb tax on the visitors, we upsell them? Take their money at the gate for sure, but give them something special in return.
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Enough randomising. More rain and ice falls.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

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Pike River realities surface . . .

At Twitter:

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Video at ODT Online:

The father of one of the men killed in the Pike River mining disaster says the families have always believed the Government wasn’t telling the truth about mine safety.

Mon, 1 May 2017
ODT: Pike video shows men in mine after blast
The Government has long said high concentrations of methane inside the mine make it too risky to re-enter to retrieve the bodies of the 29 men killed in the November 2010 blast, because the gas could explode. But footage leaked to Newshub yesterday showed two Mines Rescue workers inside the mine three months after the explosion, with no gloves, apparently relaxed as they fashioned a makeshift cover for a robot out of cardboard and tape. The robot is seen to be steaming or smoking well inside the mine, but the workers do not panic – and nothing explodes. Bernie Monk, whose son Michael was killed in the November 2010 explosion in the West Coast coal mine, said the newly leaked footage did not come as a surprise. Cont/

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At Twitter:

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nzherald.co.nz Uploaded on Nov 23, 2010
Raw video: Robot camera inside Pike River mine
First pictures from inside the Pike River mine which show the miner’s helmet and mine damage.

Business Leaders’ Health & Safety Forum Published on Oct 21, 2013
Case Study: Pike River
View the full case study here:
http://www.zeroharm.org.nz/leadership/case-studies/pike-river/

Graeme Axford Published on Oct 31, 2014
Pike River families believe photos show bodies
Friday 31 Oct 2014 8:06 p.m.
It is understood that a decision from Solid Energy on whether it will allow recovery teams to re-enter the drift of the Pike River mine is imminent. The drift is not the mine itself, but the two-kilometre tunnel that leads to the mine.
Families of the victims are desperate for a mission to collect evidence and to see if there are any bodies in the drift.
They say if Solid Energy won’t do it, they will. They say they know there are bodies in the mine, and tonight, with their blessing and for the first time, we can show you their evidence. Dean Dunbar, the father of lost miner Joseph Dunbar, spoke with Campbell Live producer Kate McCallum. Watch the full interview with Dean Dunbar.

Division of Humanities, University of Otago Published on Jul 4, 2016
███ Pike River – How could this happen in this day and age?
Colin Smith, Chairman on the Pike River Families Group Committee and the Pike River 29 Legacy Trust, talks about the Pike River disaster and asks ‘how could this happen in this day and age’? Find out why the Pike River Families have fought so hard and for so long. Colin Smith is a law graduate from the University of Otago and is a partner with the Greymouth Law Firm Hannan & Seddon.

RNZ Published on Jan 23, 2017
Pike River survivor Daniel Rockhouse believes it’s safe to enter: RNZ Checkpoint
Pike River mine survivor Daniel Rockhouse believes the mine’s drift is safe to enter, and is willing to be among the first party that goes in.

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davedobbynmusic Published on Dec 15, 2014
Dave Dobbyn – This Love (Live Perfomance)
‘This Love’ by Dave Dobbyn with the Orpheus Choir of Wellington is a moving tribute to the 29 men who died in the Pike River Mine explosion.
The piece was first performed at a concert attended by members of the miners’ bereaved families and was recorded by Radio NZ Concert. The choral arrangement is by Mark Dorrell. Also performing are Wellington Young Voices, Mark Vanilau (piano), Jo Barus (bass), Ross Burge (drums) and Chris Clark (cornet). With special thanks to TVNZ and Satellite Media – taken from the TVNZ documentary ‘Dreams Lie Deeper’.

Related Post and Comments:
24.1.13 Pike River, Department of Internal Affairs #skippingthebusiness

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

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Prison revives for visitor experience

### ODT Online Sat, 29 Apr 2017
Tourism intended for prison
By David Loughrey
Dunedin’s old prison has four new trustees, a new tenant with the tourism market in mind, and is ready to move to a new stage in its evolution. The 121-year-old Victorian-style courtyard facility designed by John Campbell has been returned to its original form. Work to replace decorative architectural elements removed from the front of the building was completed recently. Now the Dunedin Prison Charitable Trust is turning its attention to future uses for the former jail that is one of the city’s more unusual historic buildings. The prison was decommissioned in 2007, and the trust bought the property in 2012. Trust chairman Owen Graham said the physical restoration work was 95% complete — ridge tiles and two 2-metre finials still had to be finished — but it was time to start a new stage of evolution for the building. The new trustees had been appointed for their range of skills and backgrounds, and would help the trust make decisions about what happened next. Those decisions could range from another part-upgrade or “go for a multimillion-dollar effort”. […] Mr Graham said part of the trust’s strategy was to start occupying parts of the prison to sustain its activities and “bring the prison back to life with different activities”. It had been working with a business that wanted to use the prison’s kitchen, which had been identified as “serviceable”.
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The former prison has a Heritage New Zealand category one classification; future development involves discussion with Dunedin City Council and Heritage New Zealand.

Dunedin Prison | http://www.dunedinprisontrust.co.nz/

[excerpt from the trust’s website]

Timeline
Showing the many phases of use of the prison:
1896-1915 – new prison opened with cells for 52 men and 20 women
1915-1959 – Police move in to administration block and look after prisoners as well as their own duties
1959-1974 – 34 female prisoners are accommodated, segregated from men
1975-1994 – reopened catering for 59 male inmates
1994-2000 – Police move out to their new premises and prison reverts to original purpose as a men only facility
2007 – prison decommissioned and Corrections operation moved to Milburn
2011 – Dunedin Prison Charitable Trust formed to secure the prison for the nation
2012 – Dunedin Prison Charitable Trust raises $50,000 to allow it to purchase the property from Ngai Tahu Property Ltd
2014 – Conservation Plan completed
2015 – Fund-raising begins to allow us to restore the facades and repair part of the slate roof, estimated at $500,000.

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17.9.15 Dunedin Prison: Community Trust grant for restoration
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23.8.15 1865 Dunedin —Heritage Festival 2015 ‘The Open City’ … 29 Aug
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14.5.15 Russell Lund on Ministry closure of Dunedin Law Courts
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28.2.13 Tour the old prison in March (2013)
20.9.12 Dunedin Prison
6.6.12 Dunedin Prison purchased by trust
18.10.11 Dunedin Prison Charitable Trust
5.10.11 Training, jobs, city regeneration

█ For more, enter the term *heritage* in the search box at right.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

*Images: whatifdunedin sketchbook – Dunedin Prison (former)

5 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, Crime, DCC, Design, Dunedin, Economics, Education, Finance, Heritage, Heritage NZ, Innovation, Inspiration, Leading edge, Media, New Zealand, People, Pet projects, Project management, Property, Public interest, Resource management, Site, Structural engineering, Tourism, Urban design

Ihaka Stokes case #Christchurch #NZ

A B U S E D ● M U R D E R E D

Toddler Ihaka Stokes was 14-months old when he died after suffering 59 injuries in the days leading up to his death on July 3, 2015

File photo [via Newshub]

30/03/2017
Newshub: Jury retires to make decision on Christchurch toddler murder trial
The jury in the trial of Troy Taylor, who is accused of murdering toddler Ihaka Stokes, has retired to consider their decision …. Taylor pleaded not guilty to assaulting Ihaka on July 2, 2015 and not guilty to the toddler’s murder. Throughout his trial in the High Court at Christchurch he has continued to plead his innocence. Ihaka’s mother, Mikala, was the only other person who was in the house that night, and the defence argues it was she who inflicted the fatal blows. Cont/

At Facebook:

Stuff News includes video segments:

Murder-accused Troy Taylor says his ‘conscience kicked in’ too late to save Ihaka Stokes’ life
Last updated 17:38, March 28 2017

Troy Taylor found guilty of murdering 14-month-old Ihaka Stokes
Last updated 18:45, March 30 2017

Father of murdered toddler Ihaka Stokes ‘pretty happy’ at Troy Taylor guilty verdict
Last updated 22:13, March 30 2017

Blood on the wall: How toddler murderer Troy Taylor tried to pretend he hadn’t killed Ihaka Stokes
Last updated 16:44, March 31 2017

Lead detective had ‘terrible dreams’ during Ihaka Stokes murder investigation
Last updated 19:37, March 31 2017

Mikala Stokes seemed younger than her 21 years in the witness stand.
Photo: Iain McGregor/Faifax NZ

Ihaka’s mother Mikala Stokes leaves the High Court at Christchurch.
Photo: Iain McGregor/Fairfax NZ

Ihaka Stokes’ mother posted pictures on him online.

Fri, 31 Mar 2017
ODT: Mum goes clubbing after court
The mother of murdered Christchurch infant Ihaka Stokes went nightclubbing last night just hours after her ex-partner was found guilty of the boy’s brutal killing. Mikala Stokes (21) posted a photo on social media in the early hours of this morning. The selfie caption read: “From court to club”. Earlier in the evening, after Troy Taylor, the man who blamed her for killing her 14-month-old son at their Christchurch home in July 2015, was found guilty, Stokes posted photographs of her playing beer pong. One of Stokes’ friends on Snapchat, Julie Stechmann, screen-grabbed the nightclub photo, which was posted at about 1am. She told the Herald today that she thought it was strange behaviour. Cont/

At Twitter:

Cameron Ellen, right, carries his son Ihaka Stokes’s coffin at his funeral in 2015. The 14-month-old was murdered by Troy Taylor (in purple, centre), the then partner of his mother Mikala Stokes (obscured, behind Ellen).
Photo: John Kirk-Anderson/Fairfax NZ

Mikala Stokes and Troy Taylor together at Ihaka’s funeral.
Photo: Fairfax NZ

At Twitter:

Related Posts and Comments:
28.3.17 New Zealand child abuse
20.12.15 NZ Police family violence campaign #WalkAway
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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

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New Zealand child abuse

At Twitter:

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New Zealanders are more likely to be homicide victims in their first tender years than at any other time in their lives.

### NZ Herald 5:00 AM Tue, 28 Mar 2017
Jarrod Gilbert: We really must stop this cycle of child abuse
By Dr Jarrod Gilbert
Often when I’m doing research I dance a silly jig when I gleefully unearth a gem of information hitherto unknown or long forgotten. In studying the violent deaths of kids that doesn’t happen. There was no dance of joy when I discovered New Zealanders are more likely to be homicide victims in their first tender years than at any other time in their lives. But nothing numbs you like the photographs of dead children. Little bodies lying there limp with little hands and little fingers, covered in scratches and an array of bruises some dark black and some fading, looking as vulnerable dead as they were when they were alive. James Whakaruru’s misery ended when he was killed in 1999. He had endured four years of life and that was all he could take. He was hit with a small hammer, a jug cord and a vacuum cleaner hose. During one beating his mind was so confused he stared blankly ahead. His tormentor responded by poking him in the eyes. It was a stomping that eventually switched out his little light. It was a case that even the Mongrel Mob condemned, calling the cruelty “amongst the lowest of any act”.
Read more

• Dr Jarrod Gilbert is a sociologist at the University of Canterbury and the lead researcher at Independent Research Solutions. He is the author of Patched: The history of gangs in New Zealand and is currently writing a book on murder.

Related Post and Comments:
20.12.15 NZ Police family violence campaign #WalkAway

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

8 Comments

Filed under Crime, Education, Media, Name, New Zealand, People, Police, Public interest, Travesty