Hawkes Bay residents are blocking off their streets to stop gangs coming in and looting, but Prime Minister Chris Hipkins insists everything is under control, and the media have shown little interest
A friend received the following email (my emphasis):
‘GISBORNE & HAWKES BAY CRIPPLED We are getting reports MSM are ignoring the worst stories. There are 5,600 registered as missing. Hawkes Bay residents are saying: “Dead animals are building up and rotting & Napier residents have been without power, hot water, internet & phone signal since Mon night/Tues morning.” “A lot of people have lost their houses, everything.” “We were totally cut off from Napier in Hastings with many people being turned away from the only crossing available even though they were essential.”
‘”Looting, shooting, stabbing, killing, stealing, and hostage situations are going on. Gangs are out of control, holding people hostage and at gun point for their supplies.” “The devastation has all but destroyed from what we hear 50% or more of Hawkes Bay’s horticulture.” Locals have started road blocks. Why were police raiding Shooters Saloon on Thursday instead of helping in these affected areas?
‘My son is with the Navy and is helping in HB and I grew up there and have a number of friends and family there. We are being fed so much bullshit via MSM. My son orchestrated help to three different areas yesterday. He is only 21 and has been in less than three years. He said most of the superiors are either contradictory, indifferent or blissfully unaware. Most of the ship haven’t even disembarked. He has taken leave today to go and help friends in Twyford who have had the flood waters go through their house. He went to Bayview yesterday and the knob running the Civil Defence site out there sent them back to ship as there was nothing to do. He drove out to EskValley with family and said that the devastation is heartbreaking. He also said that everything that has been done there has been done by civilians and not one Government department has done a thing to aid them.
‘I know of a police woman who was retrieving bodies from the water in Esk Valley on the Wednesday and was so overwhelmed by everything that she couldn’t work on the Thursday. A friend whose sons are cops have said that it’s so bad and they will be retrieving bodies from the debris for months and then there will be many lost forever as they have been wept out to sea. Another friend works for a funeral director and they normally deal with all the Coroners work. This has been taken over by identification specialists from both NZ and Australia. My cousin is a cop and says that we only ever ask for international help when we need help to identify a large number of bodies. By Wednesday HB had run out of body bags. My son traveled down on Te Mana and they were bringing a heap more with them.
The 21000 litres of water delivered to Gisborne by the Manawanui on Wednesday is being on sold to locals. It’s an absolute shit show and I have a close friend with Army contacts and they also have their hands tied. They were deploying a heap but were then stood down at the eleventh hour.
The gang violence after dark in areas without power is out of control. The Navy have 50 assault rifles on board but have been told that they will not be out doing patrols as not everyone knows how to use them. We are being set up to implode.’
From another source:
‘Others are getting the same story out with very limited i-phone coverage. Gangs are openly going around with guns stealing food and petrol and generally looting valuables etc. The Media have been instructed to play it down and they are not telling the full story to the outside world.‘
While little has been said in the mainstream media to confirm these personal testimonies, news outlet MSN reported: ‘”It’s despicable”: Tensions escalate in Hawke’s Bay as thieves and looters target vulnerable’.
We’ve heard first-hand accounts of people witnessing the theft of food and nappies given to hard-hit communities. Others say generators and prized possessions are being taken from flood-damaged homes. And it didn’t take us long to find people who are angry and scared. [One street was] already ransacked by Cyclone Gabrielle but now they have another foe to face[,] thieves.
‘”The vulnerable are now getting their stuff stolen. The gangs are coming in, or looters in general. They’re threatening people, stealing their stuff. We are very scared, people are very scared,” said Napier local Grant Porter.’
Wellington’s Dominion Post made only a passing reference to the crime problem yesterday morning, in its article ‘Testing Our Resilience Resilience’, while its sister organisation, the major online outlet NZ Stuff, reported this disclaimer from the government: ‘Chris Hipkins denies outbreak of lawlessness in Hawke’s Bay’. The PM insists that the police have the matter under control, and accused opponents of amplifying the extent of the crime .
In line with the policy of romantising New Zealand’s criminal gangs whenever possible, the government is appealing to their better natures. Minister of Police Stuart Nash, responding to a report of gang members taking advantage of the disaster, has said:
‘You know what I’d say to the gangs, get your bloody patches off, go and get a whole lot of wheelbarrows and shovels, and start helping people as opposed to just adding to already super high levels of stress.’
And again on Newstalk ZB:
‘my plea to those – no, no, not my plea – my request to those [gang] leaders is pull your bloody head in, get your animals off the streets and out of the cars, and stop doing this.
Interestingly, a Stuff article entitled ‘Get your bloody patches off’: Police Minister Stuart Nash […]’ (https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/131277480/get-your-bloody-patches-off-police-minister-stuart-nash-urges-gangs-to-help-not-loot-amid-cyclone-recovery) now diverts to the above article, possibly the same piece but with a less inflammatory title. Presumably Stuff wished to downplay any criticism of the gangs.
Is the NZ government (and the media) right to downplay the extent of the crime faced by those deeply affected by the flooding, thus compounding an already tragic situation? Will Hawkes Bay residents draw comfort from the level of support offered by the government, and remove their barricades?