Tourists told New Zealand not 'safe country'

Security camera footage of the armed robbery during which liquor store co-owner Navtej Singh was...
Security camera footage of the armed robbery during which liquor store co-owner Navtej Singh was shot. Mr Singh died 27 hours later.
Tourists have been advised by one ethnic society that it is not safe to walk alone on the streets here, as other Asian groups here say New Zealand is fast losing its reputation as a "safe country to visit".

The New Zealand-Japan Society has advised tourists to travel in groups, rather than individually, after arrests were made over the murder of Korean backpacker Jae Hyeon Kim.

"These days, you get a lot of people choose to travel alone, and they become easy targets for opportunist crimes," said society president Stephen Duxfield.

"What we are saying is that if people are in groups, this is less likely to happen."

Police last week arrested three men over the murder of the 25-year-old on the West Coast in 2003, which led to the reopening of an investigation into the disappearance of a 64-year-old Japanese tourist Mikimoro Nakanishi in the same area.

Key office-holders of the Korean Society of New Zealand met this week where society director Kenneth Jeong said the murder and arrest were discussed.

"Some of us feel that New Zealand is not as safe as it used to be after news of the murder, which we cannot separate from the murders in South Auckland," said Mr Jeong.

"It comes as a double whammy for New Zealand, and the Korean community is wanting answers on the murder, to find out what's the main reason he was killed."

He said some suspected the murder could be an act of racism, and members of the community were eagerly waiting for any news and updates.

Last month, Joanne Wang (39) was killed after being hit by a vehicle carrying a person who snatched her handbag; Yang Yin Ping (80) was fatally attacked in her Manurewa home; and Navtej Singh (30) was shot during a robbery of his liquor store.

All the victims were Asian.

Businessman Charles Kang, a trade consultant originally from Singapore, said many of his overseas clients had raised concerns about safety issues over doing business in New Zealand after news of the killings.

"One compared New Zealand to South Africa, and another said Auckland was fast becoming for us what Oakland is to America," said Mr Kang.

"Many expressed surprised at the level of crime we experience here, because New Zealand has a reputation as being a safe country."

An operator for Taiwanese tour groups is also telling his tourists about safety in numbers when visiting New Zealand.

"We advise our tourists, especially the ladies, only to go out in groups if they want to leave their motels in the evenings," said tour guide Season Lee.

"Many Taiwanese think New Zealand is safer than where they came from, so they tend to let their guard down when they come here, and that is not a very wise thing to do."

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